OXFORD – Mike Hilton isn’t so sure he wants to change his number from 28 to 007 just yet.
Hilton, then a freshman in his first start, was the “spy” whose assigned task was to follow Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel last year.
Manziel passed for 191 yards and threw two interceptions, but also rushed for 129 yards. His 29-yard touchdown run with 6 minutes, 24 seconds to play made it a 27-23 game. He passed 20 yards to Ryan Swope with 1:46 left to lift the Aggies to a 30-27 win.
“I think we’re going to have somebody spy on Manziel this game. Mike Hilton did a great job with that last year. Hopefully we’re going to put (Hilton) back on him this year,” Ole Miss linebacker Serderius Bryant said.
Hilton was playing the Huskie position then. Chasing Manziel would be more difficult from cornerback, where Hilton is settling in with four starts under his belt.
“I think we’ll have a different scheme this year,” he said. “We’ve got a whole year under our belts watching him. I think we’ll have more defensive packages set for him.”
More efficient D
With Hilton and Senquez Golson having settled in at the cornerbacks, Ole Miss has risen in pass defense statistics from a difficult start in which Vanderbilt passed for 300 yards, 178 to wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who had 10 catches and a touchdown.
The Rebels are currently second in the SEC in pass defense efficiency with a 124.4 rating, third in passing yards per game at 191.0.
DT Carlton Martin could be back this week. DE Carlos Thompson (undisclosed) was injured early against Auburn and “probably won’t be available this week,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. Center Evan Swindall (toe), WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder) and RB Jeff Scott (thigh bruise) are expected to play.
Freeze said it’s possible that DE C.J. Johnson returns this week. Johnson (ankle) is expected to be taken out of the boot and reevaluated today.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack introduced a package at Auburn that allows him to get outside linebackers Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche on the field at the same time.
The Rebels’ base package calls for only two linebackers. The 3-3-5 he showed against Auburn went with one more down lineman and one more linebacker.
Nkemdiche had nine tackles against Auburn, Bryant eight.
“That package went pretty good,” said Bryant, who leads the team with 43 tackles. “They told us we’ll put something else in this week that we’ll run. They want to get me and Denzel on the field at the same time.”