Nkemdiche: Won’t lose momentum from first SEC win

From Media Monday at Ole Miss, here’s redshirt freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche …

(Is there the danger of losing momentum from Auburn during open week?) You either get rusty or you’re ready to get extremely better and take that next step. With the energy from my teammates … some of my teammates have told me that they’re ready to take it to the next step and get that much better.

(How big a boost was getting an SEC win?) We’ve been competing, but we hadn’t won any SEC games. It was big for us. We needed that confidence clincher, that we could win an SEC game. Now we’re ready to go against whoever wants to line up in front of us.

(Your role as leader?) I haven’t time to sit down and think about it enough to be surprised by it. I just try to take it in, try to keep doing what I’m doing, improve as a player, a person and a teammate and as a brother to these boys. When we’re winning is when we’re happy, and I always want these boys to be happy. I haven’t been able to really think about it, because it’s come so fast, but it’s crazy when I think about it for a second.

I invest a lot in my relationships and friendships with my teammates. When my word is said, they respect it, because they respect me as a person and as a teammate.

(Work on Arkansas in open date?) We worked on them all week. Tuesday and Wednesday we got after it, just extra preparation for this week. We’re a little ahead on video and game installment. They’re completely different from what they were in the beginning of the year. They look like a new team. They’re offense is clicking now. We’re going to see a good Arkansas offense, definitely.
(How big is it to have two weeks to prepare?) It’s huge. The only other time we had more than a week was when we played Central Arkansas. I felt like we really got prepared for that game, and we really knew exactly what they were doing. We knew too much of what they were doing. Two weeks of preparation for any game is a blessing, always to tweak things and have a couple more days to do what you want to do.

(Surprised by Gross?) Before Issac got up here when he was coming to visit every other week, me and him would sit down and talk, and we were like, ‘We’re the future of this progam. Let’s do something special. Let’s do anything by any means to change this program.’ He’s completely dedicated and committed to his team. He’s working extremely hard, and I’m not surprised about his success. Yeah, he’s a little small, but I don’t really look at it like that. I don’t look at size. If you’ve got that ‘it’ you can play.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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