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For most Ole Miss football fans the lack of defense over the past few seasons has been hard to watch. We’ve been aching to see the resurgence of the Landshark D and though we’ve seen flashes of it there has been very little consistent play from this defensive group.
By now we can believe head coach Matt Luke has faith in this defensive staff moving forward. With that being said we know this gives associate head coach/defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff another season. Of course, we expected much more from the Crimedawg defense last season. However this staff has committed to improving this defense. Coach McGriff knows they have to improve.
One group which has served Ole Miss well during the defensive hiatus is the D-line. Of course, we’ve had some really great tackles and ends on this defense over the recent years. This off-season coach Matt Luke and Wesley McGriff have dedicated the incoming recruiting class to the defensive line. We have some really good defensive linemen coming in to the stock we already have. Naturally, with the departure of Marquis Haynes, Breeland Speaks and others, there will be a need for some added depth.
Of course, Ole Miss has solid experienced depth coming back from last season. At defensive end sophomores Charles Wiley and Ryder Anderson join seniors Markel Winters and Victor Evans as experienced returners. The defensive tackle position can look forward to the return of juniors Benito Jones, Josiah Coatney and Austrian Robinson. Also returning at tackle are senior Ross Donelly and red-shirt freshman Sincere David.
When you factor in the impact this incoming recruiting class could have on the defensive line depth this will be a very deep roster. With James Williams, Hal Northern, Jalen Cunningham, Quentin Bivens and Ka’Darian Hill coming in there will be plenty of support. I expect this line to be much more aggressive this coming season under coach Freddie Roach. Having another off-season and spring will be very beneficial to the success of this talented group.
Despite having some talented linebackers in this defense there has to be improvement from this group in 2018. DeMarquis Gates made an impact last season and led in tackles. Taylor Polk added to the depth and experience at the position. However, they are both now gone. Although he played sparingly, the transfer of Breon Dixon affected depth for 2018.
The Rebels do have some experience coming back in red-shirt seniors Josh Clarke and Detric Bing-Dukes and juniors Willie Hibbler and Brendan Williams. Sophomores Dontae Evans and Mohamed Sonago and red-shirt freshman Zikerrion Baker also return.
Once again this is position where depth is essential and Ole Miss has recruited a few players who could contribute immediately. Vernon Dasher, Jacquez Jones and Jonathan Hess will all be players who will provide depth this coming season.
This is the one group which can go no place but up in 2018. There were moments when this group played really well while at other times they seemed lost in space. Ole Miss has a talented group of defensive backs however they didn’t seem to have a firm grasp on assignments in coverage at times in 2017.
Of course, Matt Luke and Wesley McGriff added former Ole Miss safety Charles Clark to the staff. His experience as both a former player and rising coach will benefit coach Jason Jones and the Rebels secondary. The Rebels have a bevy of really good players returning for the coaches to work with.
Among returning seniors are Ken Webster, CJ Moore, Zedrick Woods, Cam Ordway and Javien Hamilton. Juniors Myles Hartsfield, Jaylon Jones, Armani Linton and Montrell Custis are also coming back as well as sophomore DD Bowie. The group is loaded with size and speed and just need more work. Of course, the depth of this group will be added to by the addition of Cam White and Keidron Smith in the incoming recruiting class.