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Football Notebook: Preparations for No. 1 LSU

Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

Lee, Rebels’ offense prepares for LSU

Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee had to change course on Tuesday with the announcement that junior starting quarterback Randall Mackey would be suspended for Saturday’s game against No. 1 LSU and possibly next week’s Egg Bowl at Mississippi State.

“I’m just really disappointed,” Lee said. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve him the last couple months, so I’m disappointed for him and for us. We’ve got to go forward, and we’ve got a big ball game with the No. 1 team in the country coming in here.”

With more of a tradition drop-back passer in junior Zack Stoudt getting the start, Ole Miss will have to concentrate more on pass protection against a very fast LSU defense.

“We’ve limited our protections to basically three, and we’re trying to get that ball out as fast as we can because they’ve got a great rush (and) great talent,” Lee said.

CJ Johnson continues to improve

After getting his first start at defensive end this past week against Louisiana Tech and recording nine tackles, freshman defensive end CJ Johnson said he’s getting used to being on the field.

“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Johnson said. “Getting used to it, talking to guys like Wayne (Dorsey) and (Kentrell) Lockett. They kind of show you the ropes on how to play (defensive end).”

After practice on Wednesday, Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt heaped praise on Johnson as well.

“I’ve just been so proud of him in school – the way he’s handled things, the way he’s adjusted,” Nutt said. “We’ve had to play him this year, and he’s accepted that, gotten better and developed. He’s going to be a really good football player.”

Johnson came in as a linebacker, but was moved to defensive end early in the season. Nutt said he thinks defensive end is where Johnson fits best long-term.

“That’s not saying he can’t play linebacker, he probably could, but the best thing we thought at this point was defensive end,” Nutt said. “He’s still going to grow, put on good weight and get quicker and more knowledgeable.”

Nix talks upset

While Ole Miss enters Saturday’s game against LSU as a 30-point underdog, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix wasn’t focused on that.

“If you look at the statistics, we don’t have a chance offensively or defensively,” he said. “But if that was the key to the game, we wouldn’t play. Every year you line up and play this game of football, there are upsets across the country. Every year you see upsets, whether you see it in the Super Bowl, whether you see it in the regular season or whether you see it in the National Championship.

“Our No. 1 objective is to go play as well as we can for three-and-a-half hours or however long it takes, and let everything else take care of itself.”

Nix and the Ole Miss defense will face an LSU offense that doesn’t get much hype compared to the Tigers’ defense, but it is still very good.

“They’re the total package,” Nix said. “They’ve beaten the other team in this conference (Alabama). Some would say that is the No. 1 team.”