This is a random order. Here’s Reason No. 26 that Ole Miss will be improved in 2011.
The absence of end Kentrell Lockett from last year’s defense can’t be understated. Defense was bad in a lot of areas in 2010. There’s no guarantee that one player would have cured all ills, but but a healthy Lockett would have made at least one position much, much better.
Right now, the Rebels have a healthy Lockett. There’s nothing with his surgically repaired knee to suggest that’s about to change, though there have been a time or two this month that the knee has needed extra attention. There have been times that the coaching staff has held Lockett out of work, just as a precaution, to keep him healthy. That’s a good move.
Lockett had 13 pressures, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2009. Not only did the Rebels lose a tenacious pass rusher and a solid run defender when he was gone. They lost, unquestionably, the leader of the team. The words heart and soul were used to describe what Lockett means to the team in that category.
So on a defensive front with inexperience and question marks, Lockett should be able to bring stability to one end. I say should because many players return from an ACL tear and pick up where they left off in productivity. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.
Lockett’s had a good month and seems poised for a big year. That’s great news for the Rebels if he can make it happen and another big step in rebuilding the defense.