4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OLE MISS DEFENSE
– The Rebels couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t generate a pass rush, couldn’t stop anyone from throwing, and finished with the worst defense in the SEC. Other than that, everything was great. There’s hope for a quick improvement with nine starters returning, but the D needs playmakers and stars for offenses to worry about.
– The tackles are good, but they have to do even more for the woeful run D. Benito Jones and Josiah Coatney on the inside have the bulk, and now they have to be anchors around an improved run defense. There’s going to be a good-looking rotation on the ends with decent size and upside, but again, the production has to be there. The Rebels came up with just 22 sacks overall.
– Leading tackler Mohamed Sanogo is back in the middle, and so is Willie Hibbler, who can work inside or out. Qaadir Sheppard is a versatile veteran who’s part end and part outside linebacker, and on the way are star JUCO transfers Lakia Henry for the inside and Sam Williams for the outside.
– The secondary is loaded with experience despite losing CB Ken Webster and S Zedrick Woods. Sophomore Keidron Smith is the new star of the secondary, but he and the rest of the DBs have to come up with more than seven picks and a whole lot more stops.