Opening day is fast approaching and expectations are soaring as Lane Kiffin enters Year 2.

The Rebels should be dynamic offensively and they hope to be improved on defense after trotting out the worst defense in the conference in 2020.

What will unfold in 2021? Here are the 5 biggest concerns I have for this Ole Miss team.

1. Who will back up Matt Corral?

While conventional wisdom might tell you it will be John Rhys Plumlee, Kiffin shot down that notion, citing that it wouldn’t be fair to Plumlee — who is transitioning to wide receiver — to teeter back-and-forth between the positions. That means freshman Luke Altmyer or junior Kinkead Dent will continue to battle for the right to back up Matt Corral. Dent has been in the program longer, but Altmyer is a talented recruit. This will be something to keep an eye on beyond camp.

2. Can the Rebels generate a pass rush?

This issue plagued Ole Miss a season ago (just 16 sacks in 10 games) and exacerbated a litany of other defensive issues. The Rebels will likely rely on Sam Williams and Tariqious Tisdale at each defensive end slot to pressure the quarterback, along with Cedric Johnson. Williams might be the best athlete on the roster and has the potential to shoot up draft boards if he can become more consistent. Ole Miss simply has to be better in this area if it wishes to be a better defense than the one that held the team back in 2020.

3. Will the receiving corps be dependable

Braylon Sanders is their most experienced receiver, but injuries have plagued him over the past 3 seasons. Dontario Drummond and Jonathan Mingo showed flashes of being good SEC receivers last season but were not consistent enough to be considered a known commodity heading into 2021. Qua Davis is a newcomer who has turned heads and Dannis and Jadon Jackson are enticing options. Ole Miss would greatly benefit from having a second and third option behind Sanders emerge, particularly at the outside slot opposite of him. Plumlee will be an interesting project in the slot and Kiffin plans to use Jerrion Ealy there, too. But with Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah gone, Ole Miss has questions to be answered in its receiving corps.

4. Kicker

Luke Logan was not a dependable option at kicker, and it put Ole Miss in some tough spots last season, while also forcing them to be hyper-aggressive from a play-calling and game management standpoint. Ole Miss left points on the field last year due to its dysfunction at kicker. The Rebels will need to find a more reliable option here or they will likely lose a game or two because of it.

5. How does the team handle expectations?

This is the biggest, most important intangible surrounding this team’s ceiling. This is the first time Ole Miss has had real expectations entering a season since 2016. With Matt Corral considered a Heisman candidate, an explosive offense and a presumably improved defense, a bowl game is now expected rather than an end goal. How does this team handle a real spotlight, particularly with an early test against Louisville and a Week 5 road trip to Tuscaloosa?