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Rebels prepare for Vandy defense, hope to heal before Saturday

The Ole Miss Rebels are preparing for a Vanderbilt defense that ranks seventh in the conference in total defense. Several players missed practice on Tuesday, and the Rebels hope to heal up before Saturday’s game.

Ole Miss will have another tough task this Saturday when they face a much-improved Vanderbilt defense. The Commodores (5-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) enter the game ranked fifth in the conference in scoring defense (20.7 ppg.), seventh in total defense (351.5 ypg), 12th in rushing defense (197.8 ypg), and first in pass defense (153.7 ypg.)
“They do a real good job,” offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. “They don’t do a lot of things, but what they do do, they do very well. They are based out of everything looking the same. They will show the same pre-snap read and have about four or five different defenses that run out of it, and it makes it tough for the quarterback to see.”
The Vanderbilt defense is led by two junior defensive backs in Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall who have 57 and 54 total tackles on the year, respectively. With the defenses showing the same looks, Werner expects sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace to be forced to make quick decisions with the ball this weekend.
“As soon as the ball is snapped, he has to know where to go with the football,” Werner said. “He’s got to see those safeties. The safeties will start rotating to where they need to be, and we throw the opposite way. He’s done a good job of that this year.”
Ailing Rebels hope to return before Saturday
The injury bug has hit Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3) hard the past few weeks, forcing many players to miss practices and put their availability for Saturday’s game into question.
Wesley Pendleton, Aaron Garbutt, Senquez Golson, CJ Johnson, Trae Elston, Aaron Morris, and Keith Lewis were all mentioned by head coach Hugh Freeze after practice Tuesday as dealing with some sort of injury.
“Aaron (Garbutt) will not be able to go, Wesley Pendleton don’t know, Senquez will be practicing tomorrow it looks like so that will be a good thing,” Freeze said. “C.J. and Aaron Morris and Trae Elston are hopeful, but they weren’t able to do a lot today.”
This is the first Freeze has mentioned the injury status of Johnson, Morris and Elston this week.
“Trae has a turf toe, CJ has a foot, and Aaron has a shoulder,” Freeze said. “Keith Lewis is a shoulder, same boat as those others, hopeful. He is probably a little behind the others.”
Freeze said preparation is now more difficult with pieces missing on the team.
“It’s difficult because some of those guys are high-rep guys,” he said. “It’s hard and we are just going next man up. We are going to have to play with who is ready to go, and hopefully, they can get some reps before the week is up.”
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