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Takeaways from Ole Miss Football’s First Week of fall camp

Takeaways from Ole Miss Football’s First Week of fall camp

Video credit: Dillon Cader, The Rebel Walk

OXFORD, Miss. — The first week of fall camp is in the books for the Ole Miss football team. I have attended all the practices thus far, and this is what I’ve taken away from them.

It should be noted that this is what I’ve gathered after the first four practices. There is plenty of time for the depth chart to develop, new players to improve, and for the coaches to install new schemes.

QB battle still ongoing

The battle for the starting quarterback job is still anyone’s to win, and it looks like it’s going to take a while before we see a clear favorite.

None of the three quarterbacks — Jaxson Dart, Luke Altmyer, and Kinkead Dent — has put too much separation between one another at this point. They’ve each done some good things, and each made some mistakes as would be typical at this point of fall camp. There is a chance this battle could stretch into the first few weeks of the season.

After the spring, the consensus on USC transfer Dart was that he has a big arm, but sometimes struggled trying to do too much, forcing some balls he didn’t need to throw. With Altmyer, it was that he was going to check down a lot and play it a little safer, making fewer mistakes.

Ole Miss quarterback Luke Altmyer drops back to pass August 3, 2022. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

After one week of camp, I feel Dart and Altmyer have both advanced and taken some chances along the way. Dart has a very strong arm and has not made many risky decisions. Altmyer has been a more-aggressive version of himself from the spring, also showing off his quick feet and ability to throw on the run.

Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart throws during the Rebels’ practice on August 3rd, 2022. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Again, it’s important to remember that Altmyer and Dart are true sophomores, and neither have had a lot of game experience.

The dark horse in this competition is Kinkead Dent. I don’t think it’s fair to rule him out at this point as he has looked sharp at times over the course of the first week, appearing quite comfortable in the offense. He has a strong arm and can make plays on his feet as well. Dent is the oldest quarterback on the team and is in his third year under Lane Kiffin, and even with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Jr., he has a good grasp of the offense at this point.

What I can say with one-hundred percent certainty is Ole Miss has three quarterbacks who could play in an SEC game if needed, and that’s something Rebel fans should feel really good about.

There’s a LOT of defensive depth

Unlike some of the Ole Miss teams in the past, this squad has SEC bodies all over the roster. They look consistently deep and solid at every position.

This particularly applies to the defense. There are some talented players on this defense who will be expected to start — and they are being challenged by new guys every day, and that is a good thing for this team.

It’s impossible to tell what any sort of depth chart looks like on the defensive side of the ball right now. The coaches are mixing in so many players in the rotation and I think that’s notable. 

The ones you would expect to make impacts look like they are going to do just that. At defensive back, AJ Finley and Miles Battle have impressed so far. Otis Reese, a very physical safety, looks like he cannot wait to suit up in full pads and hit someone. Isheem Young, Davison Igbinosun, and Taylor Groves have impressed as well, while I’ve also seen Demarko Williams and Kyndrich Breedlove make some nice plays.

The defensive line looks extremely deep. KD Hill, Isaiah Iton, Jamond Gordon, Tywone Malone, JJ Pegues, and Jared Ivey all look good up front. Tavius Robinson and Cedric Johnson look very solid at the ends. While many are saying that linebacker is a weak link on the defense. I think Austin Keys, Troy Brown, and Ashanti Cistrunk have what it takes to make that unit quite solid.

Defensive lineman Tavius Robinson at practice on August 3rd, 2022. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

In my opinion, the biggest question with this unit right now is will enough stars emerge from all this depth to give them a chance to win big games. 

Great Energy

The Rebels looked excited when they took the field on the first day, Wednesday. Many of them, particularly the older guys, look like they are having fun. 

There have been questions about whether this team can develop chemistry, having so many newcomers on the roster. After the first week, they look well on their way to doing that. I’m obviously not in the locker room with them, so I can’t say that for certain. But what I can report is they seem to be enjoying themselves, working well together, and showing me nothing to think chemistry will be an issue.  

In particular, the quarterbacks and receivers are connecting well, and that’s important because they are going to need chemistry to reach their ceiling. 

The offensive line clearly loves being around each other, and Western Kentucky transfer Mason Brooks has fit right in with that group. With a team who needs some strong production from the offensive line to maximize the run game and give the young quarterbacks a chance to ease into things, that’s something you love to see.

There’s still a lot of camp to go, but I believe they are well on their way to becoming a close group of guys.

Conclusions from the first week

With only four practices in the book, Ole Miss fans have a reason to be optimistic. The team is working hard and developing a bond. If they can continue to grow together and a few players step up into leadership roles, the Rebels should be ready to go Sept. 3 against Troy in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Dillon Cader
Dillon Cader

Dillon is from Yazoo City, Ms. He is a senior journalism major pursuing a career in sportswriting. He grew up an Ole Miss fan and has always followed Ole Miss sports as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Braves. He played football and basketball in high school and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

About The Author

Dillon Cader

Dillon is from Yazoo City, Ms. He is a senior journalism major pursuing a career in sportswriting. He grew up an Ole Miss fan and has always followed Ole Miss sports as well as the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Braves. He played football and basketball in high school and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

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