ACL surgery affects different players differently, and through three games, Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett is still trying to regain the form he showed in 2009 before the injury when he had 13 pressures, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
In his few appearances last season – Tulane, Vanderbilt and early on against Fresno State – Lockett had six tackles, a tackle for loss and two pressures.
So far this season he’s managed five tackles, none behind the line and just one pressure.
“We knew this was going to be very difficult. He’s giving it all he has, and he’s making some plays. I’ve been proud of his effort,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said.
Coaches inserted Gerald Rivers into the starting lineup against Vanderbilt, and Rivers continues to run first team this week.
Rivers, a fourth-year junior from Ellenwood, Ga., had two tackles, a tackle for loss and two pressures against Vanderbilt.
Nutt talked in the off-season about the leadership void left by Lockett’s absence and how he looked forward to that leadership returning.
Lockett, a sixth-year senior, has remained upbeat and vocal. He’s aware of the numbers but says he isn’t pressing to make big plays.
For the season, Rivers has six tackles, Lockett five. The difference has been impact. Rivers’ Vanderbilt performance suggests he’s rising in that area.
“Obviously Coach (Tyrone) Nix and Coach (Terry) Price saw something, and they wanted me to play. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t look at it as being awkward. It’s just me being out there on the field anyway. I feel like I’ve done pretty good. Everybody has their own improvements to make. I feel like I executed the defense pretty well. We just have to get everybody on the same page,” Rivers said.