Select Page

Ole Miss Football Report: Fast Friday

Ole Miss Football Report: Fast Friday

Kiffin, Warren, Heath Meet with Media

OXFORD, Miss. – (Release) Game week is almost upon us, and this weekend, the Ole Miss football team will hold its final dress rehearsal before opening the 2022 college football season next Saturday, Sept. 3, at home against Troy. Head coach Lane Kiffin, receiver Malik Heath and offensive lineman Caleb Warren met with the media after Friday’s practice to detail the team’s preparations for the season opener.

PRACTICE LIKE YOU PLAY

With fall camp in the books, classes in session and the season’s commencement just a week away, the Rebels shifted their practice schedule to mirror that of game week—a walkthrough Thursday and a quick, high-energy “Fast Friday” practice today. “That’s what we do before a game, where it’s really short, which probably is surprising for a lot of old-school people who go full speed the day before the game. We actually walkthrough on Thursday, so it’s a build-up process of their muscles—Olympic format of training. It’s a really fast, really organized Friday.” On Saturday, the Rebels will replicate game day, complete with meetings at a hotel just as they would before a game, as well as a full scrimmage against a Troy scout team. “We basically create a Troy team of service-type guys for the most part and play as close to a game as we can. The stats won’t mean anything because they’re always so lopsided. We actually usually have to create some first downs to keep some drives alive to make the defense do more than three-and-out. They say practice like you play. We’ll even go over for meetings at the hotel tomorrow, which is always critical but especially when half of your players are new and haven’t done things with you. I think we do a lot of things different.”

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

The Ole Miss wide receiver room is as stacked as ever, including six Division I transfers. While there are still plenty of question marks as to how the rotation will shake out, but there’s little question that Malik Heath will be involved heavily in the passing attack. Heath appeared in 21 games, starting nine over two seasons at Mississippi State before transferring to Ole Miss. The Jackson native tallied 71 receptions for 749 yards with eight touchdowns during his time at MSU. That production didn’t come as a surprise to the Rebel coaching staff, who, across two different regimes, pursued Heath out of both high school at junior college. After losing out to the Bulldogs twice, the third time was the charm when Heath announced Ole Miss as his transfer destination. “Ole Miss and State recruited me both out of high school and junior college,” Heath said. “I was already heavy on State out of high school. That was the first team that offered me and the first school I ever visited. Out of junior college, by the time Kiffin got the head coaching job over here, I had already made my mind up that I’m going to State. But at the same time, he texted me to take a visit, but by that time it was over with.” Heath was third among State wide-outs with 442 yards and was fourth on the team with five touchdowns a season ago, and his 13.0 yards per reception led all Bulldogs with more than 30 receptions. The talent is a given with the Callaway product, now it’s all about adapting the pro mindset. “I think I’ve been having the yards after the catch. It’s about me being more crisp with my routes. It’s about me coming to the field with the right mindset, ready to work,” Heath said. “Me just staying focused and locked in on the ultimate goal of winning a championship and providing for my family. It’s just me staying focused.”

DEEP UP FRONT

The offensive line was an effective force for an extremely productive Rebel offense in 2021, but the hope for 2022 is that the group will be even more dynamic, talented and, most importantly, deep. Nick BroekerJeremy JamesCaleb Warren and Orlando Umana played essentially every meaningful offensive snap for the Rebels last year, racking up snap counts of 1,017, 948, 799 and 799, respectively. Ben Brown was on that pace as well, playing 444 snaps before an injury ended his season, forcing him to pass the baton to Eli Acker (329 snaps) the rest of the way. With most of that group returning, and strong showings behind them, Warren is confident the Rebels will be able to rotate more this season. “We have numerous guys who can play several positions, and that’s huge for us, especially the way last year went,” Warren said. “Having guys who can play multiple positions, it’s just really great to have the depth we have this year.” Several players have been jockeying for that one open spot on the starting line, including Western Kentucky transfer Mason Brooks. However, a redshirt freshman, Jayden Williams has made a tremendous push as camp has gone on and could be in line for a starting tackle spot. “My confidence level in him is just as high as with any other guy up there,” Warren said of Williams. “He’s playing really well right now. He’s putting some good stuff on tape. He’s done a really good job of taking care of his business, and he’s earned it.”

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

Leave a Reply

Get RW Updates