Ole Miss turning attention to facing Troy in season opener
OXFORD, Miss. – Classes have started at Ole Miss and for the football team fall camp is winding down.
Finally, after weeks of hitting one another, the Rebels can now start to focus on an actual opponent. Ole Miss is easing into preparing for the season opener Sept. 3 against Troy.
Now, the offense can start to get ready to go against the Trojans’ defense.
“Today was more of an emphasis on working against the scout team and getting ready for Troy,” receiver Jordan Watkins said Wednesday after practice.
“[We are] going against their looks and what they kind of do on defense a little bit and so we head into next week. It’s crazy, it’s here so we’re just getting a little bit more preparation in for them.”
Ole Miss WR Jordan Watkins
The opener will be Watkins’ first action for Ole Miss. He transferred from Louisville and was the Cardinals’ second-leading receiver. The junior caught 35 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns last year. He also averaged over ten yards per punt return for Louisville.
The defense is also starting to look at what Troy might be scheming offensively, but whatever they have seen, defensive end Cedric Johnson isn’t ready to let the cat out of the bag.
“They’re doing a lot of….I don’t want to get into specifics like how we’re going to defeat it,” Johnson said.
“But I think we’re going to be pretty prepared for everything they’re going to throw at us. Looking at a lot of things that they’re doing, like a lot of movement and stuff. We’re just preparing getting ready for everything they do.”
Ole Miss DL Cedric Johnson
Johnson, who switched his jersey number from 33 to 2 this year, started 11 games last season and collected 33 tackles – eight of them for a loss of yardage. He also was second on the team with 6.5 sacks.
A look at Troy
The Rebels are not the only team getting a jump start on preparing for the opening game. According to Troy coach Jon Sumrall, his team started to set up a practice schedule for game week after last Saturday’s scrimmage.
”We’ve been focused on Troy since the start of camp and who will be the guys we take to the game with us,” the first-year coach said.
“There have been some calls that we like better against certain opponents we’ve worked in, but next week we’ll start to transition even more. It will still be some good on good, but in a game-week setup.”
Troy head coach Jon Sumrall
Troy returns 18 starters from last year’s 5-7 team. The Trojans have had three consecutive 5-7 seasons, but don’t let that fool anyone. In each of those seasons, Troy lost a game in the final seconds. That means the Trojans were three plays away from three consecutive bowl bids.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the game will be broadcast by the SEC Network.
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.