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Ole Miss defense takes advantage of its ‘Chance’ to showcase improvements

Ole Miss defense takes advantage of its ‘Chance’ to showcase improvements

OXFORD, Miss. — Most of the college football world tuned into Monday’s Ole Miss win over Louisville knowing what they would see from the Rebels’ offense, and they were not disappointed. But what most fans also wanted to see was if the Landshark defense had improved since last season. 

It could be said the Ole Miss defense just got its chance.  As in linebacker Chance Campbell, the Rebels’ transfer from Maryland. 

“(He) did a really good job,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said from his Oxford home following the game.

He’s come in and been a good leader and just been excited to have a veteran come in there and step up and play really well and so that was great to see, and the whole defense, a lot of guys made plays in there. A lot of guys on this tackle list. It was cool to see the players play well and on top of that see the scheme come together and work well.” 

Head coach Lane Kiffin on LB Chance Campbell

The Maryland transfer finished with seven total tackles, three solo and 1.5 tackles for loss. One of those tackles for loss set the tone for the Ole Miss defense early. Louisville was facing a fourth-and-one at midfield and when Cardinals’ quarterback Malik Cunningham tucked the ball and tried to run, Campbell was waiting to drop him for a two-yard loss. 

“Yeah, that was a fourth down stop but we got them to fourth down, so we had guys doing their job in first, second, third,” Campbell said. “Everyone did their job so when everybody does their job, those plays are pretty easy. So, it’s just guys doing their part.” 

Campbell is correct. The rest of the Landshark defense were doing their jobs. 

Ashanti Cistrunk, A.J. Finley, Otis Reese and Tysheem Johnson each recorded eight tackles for the Rebels.  As a unit, the defense tallied seven tackles for loss, a pair of sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception. 

Campbell insists the early success is not a result of his teammates adjusting to him, but him adjusting to the Ole Miss defensive program. 

“Yeah, just buying into everything that we already have established here,” Campbell said.

Luckily, I don’t have to do anything crazy or bring too much. Just get to be myself, play hard and that’s not hard because we’ve got a ton of other guys beside me and then a load on deck that also play hard. So, kind of make you the odd man out if you didn’t, so just kind of fly around and do what you do.” 

Ole Miss LB Chance Campbell

Overall, Kiffin was impressed with the effort of his defense in its first game using a different defensive alignment than a year ago. 

“They played how we are supposed to,” KIffin said.

Obviously, we completely changed schemes from what we did a year ago, and I had not talked about it on purpose and waited for this game. You know, whatever you want to call it, this three-down and two linebackers and everybody else is DBs, it’s similar to some stuff that we played last year, Arkansas and Iowa State plays it.” 

Coach Kiffin on the Ole Miss defense

Ole Miss gets another chance to show off the defense Saturday night when Austin Peay comes to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.  

(Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

About The Author

Steve Barnes

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, and 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.

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