Mix and Match

DC Tyrone Nix

It's not as if the Ole Miss defense has been setting the woods on fire this year, but to add to that, Rebel defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix has to contend with replacing some key players who are out with injury this week. Read about it inside.

Some coaches would be poor-mouthing being in the position Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix is in.

Why? Because even though the Rebels won last Saturday over Fresno State, it was, in terms of personnel, a costly victory.

Senior DE Kentrell Lockett was lost to the year with an ACL tear in his left knee.

Senior starting CB Jeremy McGee is currently sidelined from practice with a concussion, his status for Saturday still undecided for now. Hopeful might be the best word.

Tyrone Nix

Senior strong safety Johnny Brown bruised his knee and pulled a hamstring and is doubtful for the matchup with Kentucky Saturday.

And the Rebs gave up 38 points and 420 yards to the Bulldogs while several players were being helped off the field.

But Nix takes a different slant to the defensive issues.

He calls it an opportunity.

"This is an opportunity for some of the younger guys to play," he smiled. "At corner, Charles Sawyer will have an opportunity to start, Tony Grimes will have an opportunity to play more and Marcus Temple will have an opportunity to get better with added reps. They basically played the whole game against Fresno anyway because McGee went down early in that game."

Nix likes what he sees out of newcomer Grimes, but he is, Tyrone reminded, a freshman.

"He's very energetic and he has a lot of talent and tools. It's just a matter of him getting consistent," Tyrone added. "The more he plays, the better he'll get. He wants the opportunity. He's enjoyable to coach, but he can also be frustrating because he's a freshman who arrived on campus late. Coach (Chris) Vaughn is doing an outstanding job with him but we think and hope he will play better against Kentucky."

The Rebs will have to shore up the safety slots, sans Brown, as well.

"Damien Jackson and Fon Ingram will start and freshman Brishen Mathews will move up to three," he declared. "Frank Crawford, who was a safety last year but was moved to corner this year, will be in one of our packages at safety. He knows the position, so he helps us be a little more multiple."

The Rebels also have some shifting around and elevating to do on the DL with the loss of Lockett.

Kentrell Lockett

"We'll have to play Delvin Jones more. I thought Gerald Rivers did well against Fresno. He's learning on the run, but I feel good about him," he noted. "I feel we can win and play well with Rivers in the starting lineup.

"We will also use D.T. at defensive end in pass rush situations and that gives us a threat on the edge. He's one of our best 11 defensive players so we are trying to get him in the game in a lot of situations. We will get him on the field as much as possible."

With several new faces in the lineup, Nix said the Rebels will simplify what they ask them to do.

"With a lot of youth, you have to eliminate things you think you can do with the older guys and it makes you simplify so the kids can execute and play fast," he explained. "As they mature, you can add more and more to your package."

Nix has a lot of respect for the Wildcat offense, but in particular one Randall Cobb, who plays WR, QB in the Wildcat and all over the field.

"I expect him to be at receiver, in the Wildcat formation, throwing the ball, catching it and running it. He does it all," said Nix. "When you have an athlete of his caliber, you give him the ball as much as you can, so I expect them to continue that thinking against us."

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