Under new DC Pete Golding, Ole Miss defense looks for more consistency, physicality
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss football kicked off spring practice this week in Oxford. The Rebels bring back some familiar faces along with some new pieces, both on the field and the sideline. Returning starters Jared Ivey and Isheem Young look for the defense to be more consistent and physical under new defensive coordinator Pete Golding.
Golding comes to Oxford via Alabama and will take over as the Rebels’ defensive coordinator. The 39-year-old from Hammond, Louisiana, who has 17 years of coaching experience, played four years as a safety for Delta State before becoming a graduate assistant there in 2006. While at Alabama, he was a part of the coaching staff that helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2020.
After practice Tuesday, head coach Lane Kiffin talked about some of the upcoming changes.
“It’s a little different scheme than what we played before and we have some new pieces here. We also have new coaches, including Pete (Golding), so we have a lot of work to do there. We’ve seen this system work at a lot of places and now we’ve just got to get our guys to learn it.”
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin on the defense
Golding has inherited a talented group of players on defense. One of the notable returnees is Ivey at defensive end. He played at Georgia Tech before entering the transfer portal and playing his first season with the Rebels in 2022.
In his first season in Oxford, Ivey played in all 13 games and accounted for 37 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He has proven he can be an impact player coming off the edge.
Y’all! What a defensive play on the forced fumble by Jared Ivey and the recovery by @Taviusrobinson!! Literally game-changing as the Rebels beat No. 7 Kentucky, 22-19! #PartyInTheSip pic.twitter.com/xLnfdRfJqc
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) October 1, 2022
While Ivey made some big plays last year, he knows there is always room for improvement. “I think I rushed well (last season),” he said after Tuesday’s first practice. “I think I played well on the edge. I guess just maybe on some interior movements, being more stout when I get down there with the guards and with the center.”
Last season, Ole Miss lost five of its last six games after starting the season 7-0. While it is easy for people to say what they think went wrong down the stretch last season for the Rebels, Ivey has a plan of attack to keep it from happening again.
“Defensively we were not being consistent,” he began.
“We weren’t playing as physical. Sure, we were dealing with some injuries all over the place, but just not playing as physical as we started the year off playing. That definitely is a focal point going into this offseason. Just keeping our bodies right and staying in the training room so we can outlast.”
Jared Ivey on improving as a team for 2023
On the back end of the defense, safety Young returns for the 2023 season. Last season, Young played in all 13 games while accumulating 66 total tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. He had one interception on three passes defended.
Like Ivey, Young says he and his teammates are using the end of the last season as motivation.
“That just motivates us to go way harder in the offseason and spring ball to come out way stronger next season.”
Isheem Young on losing five of the last six games in 2022
On a personal note, Young feels he had an average season in 2022 saying, “For me, a lot of people said I had a good season. I think it was average, a little below average. I think it could have been way better,” he added.
Young will be counted on heavily in 2023 as the Rebels lost talented safeties from a season ago in AJ Finley, Otis Reese and Tysheem Johnson — three of the top four in terms of number of tackles last season.
Spring camp continues
Spring camp continues with Saturday practices on April 1 and April 8 open to the public. More information on start time for those Saturday will be released later.
The Grove Bowl, presented by Mississippi HomeCare, is set for Saturday, April 15. Kick is slated for 2 p.m. CT and will be televised by SEC Network+ and ESPN+
Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss alum with a degree in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.