By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – LaMark Armour has come full circle.
A college football journey that is in its sixth season – he says it feels like 10 years at times – has him back where he began.
At defensive end.
As a prep senior, he was one of the top players in Tennessee, finishing his senior season at Hunter’s Lane High School in Nashville with 11 sacks.
Knee injuries delayed his college development, and Armour appeared in only six games over his first three seasons. Along the way he gained weight and moved inside to tackle.
Tonight before more than 100,000 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Armour is back at end and being asked to help his Ole Miss teammates do what South Carolina did a week ago – slow down the Alabama run game.
Coming off its first loss in 20 games, the Crimson Tide will look to get its run game back on track against the Rebels, who are trying to overcome a major injury at one end and non-productivity at the other.
Third-year sophomore Gerald Rivers has settled in as the starter in place of senior captain Kentrell Lockett, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the Fresno State game.
Junior college transfer Wayne Dorsey has started the first five games but hasn’t acclimated to provide the impact needed upon his arrival from Gulf Coast Community College.
That’s where Armour, who regularly backs up Ted Laurent at tackle, comes in.
“You’ve got to have some meat on your bones to be out there,” defensive tackle Jerrell Powe said.
Armour has more meat but also has more experience.
“I think I have some power,” he said. “I gained some weight and moved to tackle, but I can play end or tackle. It really doesn’t matter, and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”
Exposed against the pass, the Rebels have been pretty good against the run, twice holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards.
Kentucky’s Derrick Locke was the SEC’s second-leading rusher when the Rebels held him 50 yards below his average. The Wildcats gained 124 as a team, however, and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix began experimenting with Armour during the open week.
South Carolina held Alabama to 36 rushing yards after sack losses were figured in. Even without those negative plays the Gamecocks were impressive, holding starting tailback Mark Ingram to 41 yards, his backup Trent Richardson to 23. They had a combined 17 carries.
‘Playing our game’
“They’re good running backs. They always fall forward, and you have to gang tackle them,” Armour said. “I don’t know what happened to them at South Carolina. South Carolina was more aggressive, but Alabama’s a good team. We all know that. I’m just focused on us going down there and playing our game and doing what we can do.”
Hopefully for Ole Miss, when the dust settles that will mean something less than the 200 yards the Tide put on the Rebels in a 22-3 win in Oxford last year. Alabama was No. 3, Ole Miss No. 16 at the time.
“LaMark gives us a little more beef,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “We’re a little bit thin and young on the edge. Wayne’s still working hard, but LaMark’s looked good out there.”
Saturday’s game at a glance,/b>
– Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
– Kickoff: 8:10 p.m.
– Television: ESPN2
– Radio: Ole Miss Network, XM 201; Sirius 218.
– Records: Ole Miss 3-2, 1-1 SEC; Alabama 5-1, 2-1 SEC
– Series: Ole Miss leads 26-13-1
– Coaches: Alabama – Nick Saban 139-68-1 17 seasons overall, 33-9 fourth season at Alabama. Ole Miss – Houston Nutt 133-80 18th season; 20-10 third season at Ole Miss.
– Statistical Leaders: Alabama – RB Trent Richardson, 63 carries, 442 yards, 4 TD; QB Greg McElroy, 99 for 137, 1,298 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT; WR Julio Jones, 32 catches, 440 yards, 3 TD; DB Mark Barron 40, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT. Ole Miss – RB Brandon Bolden 76 carries, 518 yards, 5 TD; Jeremiah Masoli, 57 for 94, 823 yards, 6 TD, 5 INT; WR Markeith Summers 11 catches, 242 yards, 2 TD; LB Jonathan Cornell, 40 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks.
– Trends: Alabama has won 19 of its last 20. … Ole Miss is 1-23 in games played in Tuscaloosa, its only win coming in 1988.
– Notes: Saban is 7-1 against Ole Miss, his lone loss coming in 2001 when he was coach at LSU. … Nutt is 5-7 against Alabama, his last win coming 24-23 in 2 OT in Fayetteville while coach at Arkansas. … His last two trips to Tuscaloosa have been lost by a combined seven points. … The Rebels lost 24-20 at Alabama two years ago, 22-3 in Oxford last year. … Ole Miss leads the SEC in scoring offense at 37.2 a game, is last in scoring defense at 32.6 a game. … Alabama leads in turnover margin at plus-7; Ole Miss is last at minus-3.
– Summing it up: “I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress. I wish we could start over today. We have gotten better.” – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt
– Prediction: Alabama 36, Ole Miss 27