TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Ole Miss defensive end C.J. Johnson has already worked his way back from a broken leg he suffered during the spring.
In Saturday’s 25-0 loss at No. 1 Alabama, Johnson left the game on a cart with 4 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first quarter. He returned in the second with what appeared to be a mild right ankle issue.
“I don’t know. I saw them looking at five or six guys in there,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said immediately after the game. “I couldn’t tell you.”
Johnson went down again in the third quarter when he drew a holding flag as he chased Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. But that was because the flag hit him in the eye.
Johnson finished with three tackles and was the last one to leave the locker room. He did not speak with the media.
Alabama had managed only 36 rushing yards – and a 9-0 lead – at the half.
“Defensively, I thought we kept us in the game,” Freeze said. “Were we able to convert some drives and get some points, I think you would have hopefully seen a different team in the fourth quarter.”
But T.J. Yeldon opened the third quarter with a 68-yard touchdown run and Alabama finished with 434 yards to Ole Miss’ 205 – only 46 rushing.
Sophomore end Channing Ward, of Aberdeen, got a lot of work before and after Johnson returned. Ward had three tackles, one tackle-for-loss with Trae Elston. He also caused one of three Alabama fumbles in the first half. The Tide got all three back.
“Real proud of their effort. On the two long touchdown runs, we got the guy free to make the play and we missed the tackle,” Freeze said.
“It had to be frustrating to be on that side of the ball and know we never could get any life in us because we never could produce any points.”