While Ole Miss has more depth on defense the Rebels will be at their best if they don’t have to use it much.
Depth is best used to insert fresh legs, but there’s no doubt the Rebels need to keep their stars healthy.
Starting with C.J. Johnson.
The pass rush was woefully inadequate last year, ranking 12th in the league and 96th in America at 1.54 per game.
Much of that was due to the absence of C.J. Johnson. His defensive coordinator, Dave Wommack, calls Johnson the Rebels’ best defensive player.
“I think we’ve got the guys in place to where we can really do something in this conference. Defensively, we’re two-deep finally. We feel like we’ve got some guys we can throw at you,” said Johnson, who had 6.5 sacks in 2012. He’s a junior in eligibility, getting last year back with a medical redshirt.
There are guys who will help with heat this year, starting with Florida International transfer Fadol Brown.
Freshman Marquis Haynes will make an impact, and the Rebels will get more push from the DL interior with Robert Nkemdiche at tackle and not end.
So much of improving the pass rush, though, depends on what Johnson gets done. He’s excited to be healthy, and he believes he’ll be better because he’s worked on his trade against offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
“I’ve tried to add some more rush moves to my package. Going against Laremy every day, some of that stuff kind of gets old. Some of it’s not going to work, because his feet are so good and he’s so great. Going against him every day will definitely help me become a better player because he’s so talented,” Johnson said.