Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart, wide receiver Malik Heath developing great football chemistry
OXFORD, Miss. — In a world where change is constant, the Ole Miss football team is no exception. In the offseason, Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin had to replace not only a slew of holes on his team’s roster, but major roles on his coaching staff. With so many new faces it can be tough to build chemistry quickly, but from what we’ve seen so far in 2022, it seems the 5-0 Rebels are well on their way to building great chemistry.
Of all the changes on the team, perhaps the biggest is at starting quarterback. USC transfer Jaxson Dart is stepping in after Matt Corral led Ole Miss to its first 10-win regular season in school history last year.
With a record of 5-0 and fresh off a win over a top ten SEC opponent, the Rebels seem to have done a great job of buying in and building up their team chemistry. This starts with Dart who seems more comfortable with every game he plays.
“I would say mentally I’m way more comfortable,” Dart said earlier this week, following the competition he was in with Luke Altmyer throughout spring, summer and the beginning of fall.
“I compete every day that I’m out there so the competition thing doesn’t really get into my head as much, being able to just go out and play ball and have a ton of fun doing it.“
Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart
Having the leader of the offense comfortable and enjoying himself can be infectious, which seems to be the case.
“He is young, but I think he’s experienced,” wide receiver Malik Heath says of Dart.
“He played a little ball up there at USC, so he is young but he is going into it the right way, being a leader on the field and being a leader off the field.“
Malik Heath on Jaxson Dart’s leadership
Dart is not the only new face on offense. Statistically speaking, four of the top rushers and pass-catchers from last season are gone. From a production standpoint that means starting almost from square one.
Mississippi State transfer Heath has been Dart’s top target in the passing game up to this point in the season. The rate at which Heath and Dart have been able to familiarize themselves with each other has been astonishing.
Heath leads the Rebels in receiving yards with 320 on 19 catches.
Malik Heath had six catches for a career-high 100 yards against Kentucky
— We Run the Sip (@OMRebelNation) October 2, 2022
Keep in mind that Heath was not present during spring practice, so the two had to embark upon a month-long crash course during fall camp.
“I think it’s something that’s really neat. I’ve never had previous experience playing with these guys. For example, Jaylon (Robinson) and Malik, we didn’t even get time together in the spring, and Mingo was out the spring with injury, so we’re all still new to each other — so it’s really exciting because that chemistry is just going to continue to grow and we’re gonna continue to get better as a team.“
Dart on how he and new teammates have grown together
With the combination of youth and new chemistry still evolving, there have understandably been a few lumps. But, that is to be expected and there is still so much room to improve that Rebel fans should be excited.
“The limit is untouchable for us. We can be so good, so I’m really excited for what’s coming… It’s a learning experience for us. That’s a really good team we played against (Kentucky). Sometimes you face things that just don’t really happen sometimes and it’s a good learning experience for us because we’re just gonna carry it moving forward.”
Dart on team’s future
One area the Rebels will no doubt focus on is the team’s second-half offense. Of the 178 points the unit has scored this season, only 59 have come in the second half of games. But as the season progresses and the chemistry continues to build, this issue will likely be resolved. It is also worth noting that this is offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’ first season at Ole Miss, and as the season goes on he, too, will become more comfortable.
Next up for the Rebels will be Vanderbilt in Nashville. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. and the game will be televised by SEC Network.
(Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.