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OXFORD, Miss. — What a difference a week makes. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the Ole Miss defense outshined its offensive counterparts.
At last Sunday’s scrimmage, however, the opposite was the case as the Rebels’ offense used big plays and took advantage of sloppy tackling to dominate the defense. That was not the case Saturday.
“I thought our defense responded really well and played really well,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said after the scrimmage.
“We did do ones versus ones (first string) and twos (second string) versus twos. We did a good job limiting explosive plays and not missing tackles. Overall, it was a good defensive day. Good to see.“
Head coach Lane Kiffin on the defense
Kiffin was particularly impressed with the play of the Rebels’ defensive line.
“I think the d-line played extremely well, I mentioned Sam (Williams),” Kiffin said when asked about who stood out in an improved pass rush. “The linebackers played more physical and hit runs, didn’t give up (explosive) plays, a lot of three and outs, so not a lot of turnovers, but punts. A lot of punts.”
Sophomore linebacker Cedric Johnson thought the defense played with more intensity Saturday than it did a week ago.
“Everybody came in with a different type of energy,” Johnson said. “We just made sure we’re stopping every play as much as we could and play with a lot more effort.”
Johnson, who accumulated three sacks a year ago, believes the experience he gained in his ten games – six of them starts – is going to make an improvement to his performance in 2021.
“It made me more comfortable, me being a freshman in these big games,” Johnson said.
“I’m a lot bigger and stronger I believe. Mentally, I’m way more confident in myself. I feel like the team has more confidence in me. Coaches across the board are more confident in myself.”
DL Cedric Johnson on how he has improved from last season
The Rebels have just 16 days to prepare for the season opener. Ole Miss takes on Louisville Labor Day in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
(Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.