Ole Miss Defense
One of the most crucial aspects of the 2021 season for Ole Miss will be the defense. Unfortunately, the Rebel defense has been an ongoing issue for the team. Ole Miss ranked No. 117 in scoring defense, No. 101 in rushing defense, No. 125 in passing defense, and No. 126 in total defense. Ole Miss has ranked in the bottom of the SEC in total defense and scoring defense in the past five years.
In 2020, Ole Miss ranked dead last in the conference in scoring defense, total defense, and rushing defense. The Rebels were also second-worst in passing defense. Losing leading receiver Elijah Moore and TE Kenny Yeboah isn’t a good thing, and there is work to be done and a lot to prove in the upcoming football season for the Ole Miss defense.
A Fresh Face on the Sidelines
Lane Kiffin took over as head coach last season with a 5-5 season. That also includes a win at the Outback Bowl. Heading into the 2021 season, the major task at hand is building the defense into something it has not been in years.
During the Spring Game, the defense was not at full strength but gave a look into what might be expected in the Fall. DeSanto Rollins had two sacks at defensive tackle, but hopefully, as newcomers Isaiah Iton, Jamond Gordon, and Tywone Malone suit up this year, the defensive line will increase their success in the pass rush. Sam Williams also returns this season. The Rebels will also depend on the talents from Tariqious Tisdale, Tavius Robinson, Demon Clowney, Cedric Johnson to increase the sack total (16) from the 2020 season.
Spring Game Standouts
Ole Miss’s No. 1 receiver Braylon Sanders, was an exciting stand-out in the Spring game. While grabbing more than 100 yards of catches. The Fifth-year senior WR will have all eyes on him this upcoming season. He has patiently waited behind AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, and Elijah Moore. Despite sustaining several injuries he has finally emerged as a player to watch. But we will do a deep dive into the offense in my next installment on Ole Miss football.
The name Tysheem Johnson was also mentioned after he made an interception at the Spring Game. The defensive back was an early enrollee and was the answer every teammate gave when asked the question, “Which freshman has stood out this Spring?”
At defensive tackle, 320lb junior KD Hill and 305lb senior Hal Northern will apply the pressure, combined with leading tackle Jacquez Jones and senior Lakia Henry. Last but certainly not least is senior Sam Williams, who led the team with four sacks and sophomore Cedric Johnson came up with three last season.
Everyone in the secondary has returned, including senior Jon Haynes, for defensive back coach Terrell Buckley to groom for the upcoming season.
The Ole Miss Rebels will kick off the 2021 season in Atlanta against the Louisville Cardinals on Monday, September 6th. They will face Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn in subsequent conference play.