Ole Miss O-Line looking to get healthy ahead of season opener vs. Louisville
OXFORD, Miss. — When thinking of a way to describe a Southeastern Conference offensive line, the word “thin” is way down the list of adjectives.
Yet that is what Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is facing with fewer than two weeks until the season opener. Not in regard to the girth of the Rebels’ offensive linemen, but the number of them with a clean bill of health.
“I think that (injury issues) position by position, we are limited at a number of positions with injuries,” Kiffin said after Tuesday’s practice.
“I would say positionally, offensive line we’re very low on numbers, so it’s been hard to develop guys there; same with receiver, same with tight end. Running backs are healthy, we feel pretty good there. Our secondary is pretty healthy, feel like we’re developing some guys there and linebacker and d-line, our defense is pretty healthy. Our offense is not.”
Coach Lane Kiffin on team health and depth
With 13 days remaining until the Rebels take on Louisville to start the 2021 season, Kiffin is working to get young players up to speed and hoping to get injured players back on the field. Not only are players floating from position to position on the offensive front, but others have also headed to the offensive huddle to lend a hand.
Monday, South Carolina transfer offensive lineman Jordan Rhodes joined the team, while former defensive lineman LeDarrius Cox has crossed the line of scrimmage to the offense and swapped places with Jalen Cunningham who has now moved to defense.
“Just looking at some things,” Kiffin said about searching his options. “Both those guys (Cunningham and Cox) have skill sets that could have a chance on the other side. Jalen played there in high school, really that’s all he played in high school…that’s all he’s known, defensive line, before, so we’ll see – he’s a big body.”
With several offensive linemen visiting the Ole Miss training room, depth has become a priority for Kiffin, but even the reserves have not been without their maladies.
Kiffin noted Tuesday that offensive linemen Eli Acker and Bryce Ramsey have each been impressive in their fall camp.
“Both guys have done really good things,” Kiffin said. “Eli’s limited right now and Bryce has been in and out as well, so it’s kind of a common theme at that position, especially with our twos, so both guys have done some really good things.”
Another player who has missed time is center Orlando Umana, who transferred to Ole Miss from Utah prior to training camp. But Kiffin expects to see Umana and the rest of the offensive line back working soon.
“I expect everybody to practice,” Kiffin said.
The Louisville game will be broadcast on ESPN Labor Day evening. Rece Davis will handle the play-by-play duties while Kirk Herbstreit will be the color commentator and Molly McGrath will serve as the sideline reporter.