The 2016 Ole Miss football season is only two weeks old but the Rebels have been dealt a season’s worth of injuries. The injury bug has infested the football team early this year.
Ole Miss started this season with a loss against Florida State. However, the biggest losses of the year so far came on the injury front. The football team has suffered a few tough injuries. A couple of those injuries came in positions in which the Rebels were already thin.
During the first game of the year against Florida State, the Rebels suffered two devastating injuries. Ken Webster went down early in the game while defending a pass. By the way, he went down many speculated the worst. Unfortunately, it was bad. According to the Coach Hugh Freeze, Webster tore “every ligament in his knee.” He will be forced to miss the rest of the season.
Webster was the Rebel’s best cover corner. Also, with the Rebels being thin at DB, Ole Miss was counting on Webster’s presence so they could ease the younger players into the rotation. Now all of a sudden, there is a lot of inexperience playing key minutes. It was visibly an area of weakness during the Florida State game. The Seminoles constantly converted third and long due to the softness of coverage.
If the Rebels are going to survive this season, young players are going to have to grow up quickly. But it is also time for some of the veterans to live up to their reputation. Tony Bridges has to play better than he did against the Seminoles. Carlos Davis will now have to more than likely step into a starting role. Therefore, there is more pressure on his shoulders. Stronger play from all the other defensive backs is need as well with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming to town.
During the same game, the Rebels lost their number two running back, Eric Swinney. Swinney tore his ACL on his first collegiate carry. He was hoping to have a huge roll this year with the absence of Jordan Wilkins.
The running back position has now become one of concern. Ole Miss’ running game consist of Akeem Judd, Eugene Brazley, and true freshman D’Vaughn Pennamon. In order for the Rebels’ offense to operate efficiently and effectively, the running game has to be a big part. It keeps the defense honest and helps opens up the middle for the receivers. When the Rebels are forced to become a passing only team we get what we saw in the second half of the Florida State game. Defenses will begin to tee off on quarterback Chad Kelly. Unfortunately, our offensive line is not quite up to that challenge.
In the win against Wofford, the Rebels also lost wide receiver D.K. Metcalf for the season with a broken foot. Metcalf was becoming a reliable red zone threat. He had two touchdowns in his first two games. Now he will most likely redshirt and return next year. However, with the Rebel’s depth at WR his loss will hurt but not as bad as the other losses.
The Rebels have enough big bodies that can fill his goal line role. Look for A.J. Brown to get even more involved. We should also see and increased the involvement of Damore’ea Stringfellow and Damarkus Lodge.
Rebel fans are hoping the injury bug will leave the team alone for a while. The SEC season is fast upon us and we have big goals ahead.