The Ole Miss Rebels enjoyed (and endured) a roller coaster season in 2014. The Rebs won nine games, upset Alabama, hosted College GameDay for the first time ever and stunned Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, while also dropping two of its final three games of the year including a 42-3 loss to TCU in the Peach Bowl.

Now Ole Miss must turn the page to the 2015 season, beginning with spring practice opening next month. The Rebels have a new quarterback, plenty of new faces on defense and a slew of guys returning from injuries. It also has its best recruiting class ever (the 2013 class) entering its third year on campus, and with that experienced talent comes high expectations.

Here are what we think the Rebels’ top 5 priorities should be as spring practice approaches:

5. Reassess the rushing attack and the stable of tailbacks: Ole Miss managed to mask its mediocre rushing attack with some decent cumulative numbers at season’s end thanks to a few explosive runs throughout the season, many of which came either in the Egg Bowl or in a cakewalk past FCS foe Presbyterian. But ultimately, the Rebels’ rushing attack was bland and lacked consistency, and with I’Tavius Mathers and Mark Dodson transferring after the season it won’t be easy to improve the rushing attack this offseason. The addition of four-star signee Eric Swinney could add another threat out of the backfield, but past tailbacks like Dodson and Jordan Wilkins were also four-star recruits who failed to elevate the run game. It’s going to take an inspired season by either Wilkins, Jaylen Walton or Swinney, combined with a better all-around performance from the offensive line to add balance to an offense that grew pass-heavy at times in 2014.

4. Find ways to maximize dominant defensive tackles: It can be argued that Ole Miss has two of the top 5 defensive tackles returning in the SEC in former top overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche and his running mate Issac Gross. However, this priority is not about how to use Nkemdiche and Gross; those two already play the position better than most and with two prior years of experience playing together they know how to approach their roles within the defense in 2015. What Ole Miss must prioritize is finding ways to maximize the impact of that nasty tandem of tackles. Develop new stunts at the line of scrimmage to create pressure in unorthodox ways. Find the right linebackers to make sure tackles when one of the two stud defensive tackles blows up a run play. For Ole Miss and defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, it’s all about finding ways to use Nkemdiche and Gross to make the entire defense as a whole a better unit.

3. Work players returning from injury back into the mix: Top wideout Laquon Treadwell will return to the field for spring practice after suffering a season-ending leg injury last season, giving the Ole Miss coaching staff its first chance to find out what he can still do physically and where he can continue to improve between spring practice and Week 1 this fall. Former junior college transfer Tee Shepard is also returning from a toe injury that kept him on the shelf for the entire 2014 season, and starting linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche should be back in action in his return from a season-ending broken leg suffered in the middle of last year. Spring practice will allow all three guys to work their way back into “football shape” as well as find their niches on the 2015 squad before the season arrives in full force this fall. Treadwell can develop timing with the Rebels new quarterback. Nkemdiche and Shepard can find how they fit in a new-look defense losing many of its top contributors from last year. The more work Ole Miss puts in to working these guys back into the lineup, the better off it will be by September.

2. Find new starters to replace departed talent on defense: The Rebels lost starting linebackers Deterrian Shackelford and Serderius Bryant, as well as All-American defensive backs Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, from last year’s squad, and they will need to replace all four guys to have a chance at duplicating their success in 2014. Shepard, Mike Hilton and top junior college cornerback Tony Bridges will go a long way to helping replace Golson, and experienced defensive backs like Tony Conner, Trae Elson and C.J. Hampton will do the same in replacing Prewitt. At linebacker, Nkemdiche will need to take on a greater role, and missing on four-star recruit Leo Lewis means Ole Miss will need to find another player stashed on its bench to take on a starting job. Spring practice is the ideal circumstance in which to at least begin making assessments regarding that spot next season.

1. Decide on a starting quarterback and focus on developing that guy: The biggest question mark Ole Miss faces this spring will be its lack of a proven quarterback to lead the offense. Chad Kelly enters the mix as an assumed favorite to win the job, but he has little experience at the FBS level from his days at Clemson and a long history of issues off the field. However, he was also the top junior college quarterback in the nation last season, throwing for more than 3,900 yards and 47 touchdowns on his way to a national title at East Mississippi Community College. Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan return for their redshirt sophomore seasons after looking rather suspect in limited action as co-backups last year. None of the three candidates has a stranglehold on the job, but if the Rebels could decide on a starter this spring it would really give the offense a headstart on finding an identity when fall practices begin in August.