By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – How much of the defense Channing Ward picks up before Ole Miss opens the season remains to be seen, but listening to defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Ward may not have to pick up too much.
“I’m going to try my hardest to get him ready to go with everything, but we can always build a package for him,” Kiffin said. “On third down we may have to limit some of the stuff we do. We’ll determine all that in the next two weeks by how quickly he picks stuff up, but he’ll definitely be able to rush the passer.”
Pass-rushing off the edge is one area in where the Rebels need a lot of help. Kiffin is hopeful some of that help will come from sophomore C.J. Johnson, the state’s top recruit in 2011, who’ll hold down one end spot.
Last year the Rebels had more than one sack in a game just three times and no sacks over the final three games.
Ole Miss had only 13 sacks for the season, a combined five by defensive ends Wayne Dorsey and Gerald Rivers, who are no longer in the program.
Ward (6-4, 250) had 29 sacks over his last two seasons at Aberdeen. He had 2 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the Under Armour All-America game.
“The best thing about him is his physical make-up,” Kiffin said. “He’s a specimen out there.”
Grant stays sharp
While Ward excels at the physical part of the game right now, Uriah Grant scores well at the mental part.
It’s the physical part where Grant, a senior defensive tackle coming off shoulder surgery, has to catch up.
He just returned to the field this week, but Kiffin says he fully intends for Grant to be in the playing rotation against Central Arkansas on Sept. 1.
“He’s looked good. The thing about Uriah is he knows the whole defense inside and out, and that’s been really pleasant,” Kiffin said. “He’s been in meetings all fall camp. You ask him questions, and he knows the answers. It’s not going to be an issue for him to get caught up.”
A Miramar, Fla., native, Grant’s resume includes a signing day-experience with Wake Forest, then a year at Eastern Kentucky before transferring to Fullerton (Calif.) CC.
In his first year at Ole Miss he appeared in 11 games (seven starts) and finished with 22 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and a sack.
Glad to be back
When Collins Moore was helped off the field the second day of practice, he had an idea what his injury might be, and he knew what it would take to get back on the field.
Soon, he found out for sure he’d torn his labrum – again.
“I (also) tore my labrum right before my sophomore season of high school. I had to wear the same brace I’m wearing now, and I wore it throughout the season,” he said.
When Moore was injured earlier this month, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze left open the possibility that he would be lost for the season. Surgery will be necessary at some point, Freeze said, but it can be delayed.
Moore, who began camp as the starting slot receiver, is glad that’s the case.
“I want to definitely maintain my position and role on this team. I’m a big part of it, and I feel like my team is depending on me to get healthy and be back with them,” he said.
Moore played his way into a bigger role near the end of this freshman season. He finished with four catches for 69 yards.
There were already depth issues at receiver when he was healthy. The position became thinner still with the departure of Tobias Singleton.
“It’s always a good feeling to be somewhere that you’re wanted, and we are thin at our position right now, but I think we’re going to work it out, and everything’s going to be good,” Moore said.