Ole Miss, LSU each have two starting freshmen offensive tackles set to play Saturday
OXFORD, Miss. – Saturday will mark LSU head coach Brian Kelly’s first time playing against Ole Miss in his career. It will be the first time several Rebels have faced LSU as well. But there is an oddity this week that is hard to believe. In this game, all four starting offensive tackles will be freshmen.
While Ole Miss plans to start redshirt freshmen Micah Pettus and Jayden Williams, the Tigers have been starting true freshmen Emery Jones, Jr., and Will Campbell.
Pettus was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Rebels’ win over Kentucky. Campbell earned the same honor four days ago after the Tigers’ win over Florida.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has been impressed with his young tackles.
“I think they’ve done really well. I think last week was a big test for them. It’d be their third start together, and to play against some really good players. They did really well. Protected the quarterback well and really did good in the run game.“
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin on his freshmen tackles
In last week’s 48-34 win over Auburn, the two Ole Miss tackles helped the rushing attack amass 448 yards. Quarterback Jaxson Dart was only sacked once and that was for a mere two-yard loss.
The LSU tackles helped the Tigers to a 45-35 win over Florida with 557 total yards and like Ole Miss, only gave up one sack.
How long has it been since Kelly started two freshman offensive tackles?
“Thirty-two years, 33? I don’t believe I’ve ever started two freshmen, period, on an offensive line. But, to have two tackles in the SEC is quite unusual. It’s not necessarily the physical, they have the physical because you cannot play in this league unless you have physical traits. These guys are too fast and they’re too big , they’re too strong. They’ll walk you back to the quarterback if you’re not physically strong enough and Emery Jones and Will Campbell physically have the traits to go into the weight room and be as strong as anybody that we have and they’re able to move their feet to obviously get out and set these guys.”
LSU coach Brian Kelly on his true freshmen tackles
As physically impressive as the pair has been, Kelly is equally proud of their other traits.
“These guys are extraordinary in their ability to move on to the next play,” Kelly said. “They focus and then refocus so their mental approach to the game is so far above any freshman that I’m used to having. They generally have that look in their eyes right about now that they’re done. These guys are anxious for more and that’s unusual.”
Keep an eye out on these four tackles as how they go, may go their respective teams.
Ole Miss and LSU kickoff at 2:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge in a game that can be seen on CBS.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.