Rebels face the unknown Saturday against Troy as Trojans have new head coach and coordinators
OXFORD, Miss. – It is hard enough for a college football coaching staff to prepare for a team that is familiar to them, but to prepare for a team they know nothing about is even tougher.
That is the situation Ole Miss is in as the Rebels try to get set to take on Troy Saturday.
Troy has a new coach in Jon Sumrall who came from Kentucky, a new offensive coordinator in Joe Craddock from UAB, and last year’s co-defensive coordinator at Army, Shiel Wood, has also joined the Trojans staff.
The coaches coming to Troy from different programs makes it even more challenging to prepare for what the Trojans may look like when the teams kick off at 3 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Yeah, that’s difficult because you have to watch film from other teams, and that’s always a problem in an opener with a staff from somewhere else because you’re watching the film for scheme but then you get lost in the players and it’s like you’re not even playing these players, it’s some other school,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said in his Monday press conference.
“So that’s always challenging. I remind our coaches in games like this it’s more about making sure we perform really well, do things that we’re really good at, regardless of what they may do because we don’t know exactly what they will do — [but] our guys know what to do.”
Lane Kiffin on the challenges of playing Troy
One thing Kiffin is certain about the Trojans is the amount of talent on the roster, but now and historically.
“I know that they’ve got really good players, you know they’ve got a new staff with different people on it from different places; it’s not like the whole staff came from somewhere and you can just watch that place, so it’s very challenging. At times last year they played really competitive and like I said I they have always had good players.”
Coach Kiffin on the talent at Troy
Troy head coach Jon Sumrall discusses the Rebs
Troy is in a similar position as the Rebels. Ole Miss has new co-offensive coordinators in Charlie Weis, Jr. and John David Baker, while the defense is headed up by co-defensive coordinators Chris Partridge and Maurice Crum. Ole Miss also has a bevy of new players from a year ago.
“They have a really talented offense and Lane does a great job of calling plays and they have some really great playmakers,” Sumrall said.
“They’re as explosive of an offense as you’ll see in college football. They have some new faces on (the offense) and lost a lot of production from last year but they may be improved in terms of talent.”
Troy head coach Jon Sumrall on Ole Miss
As talented as the Rebels are, it is the pace of play that has Sumrall’s attention.
“It starts with their tempo, they stress (your defense) with how fast they play the game,” Sumrall said.
“They do a really good job of play design and Lane is a really good play caller. I think he’s been a really good player caller for a long time and he’s adapted and puts you in some situations that are challenging and puts you in a bind schematically. They have really great players and even though they lost a lot they may be even more talented in terms of ability.”
Coach Sumrall on Lane Kiffin and the Rebels
The two teams may not know one another well, but at 3 p.m. Saturday, they will start to get acquainted on the field.
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.