Pep in His Step

Ole Miss senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett returned to practice in full pads Wednesday, his first action in almost two weeks.

Lockett, having dealt with an irregular heartbeat, underwent an EKG test this morning, but no abnormalities were found. Lockett ran with the first-team defense during practice, and plans to be in uniform Saturday at Tulane.

"I felt fine," he said. "I was happy going in, but then as practice actually started going, I kind of got a little gassed, a little tired. I'm fine now. I caught my second wind. I think I'll be alright come Saturday."

Kentrell Lockett

Lockett, Ole Miss' unquestioned leader, was sorely missed Saturday. The Rebel defense was slashed and gashed by Jacksonville State, mostly in the second half, en route to a 49-48 upset inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

More troubling, Ole Miss lacked a pass rush, as newcomer Wayne Dorsey and long-tenured backup Gerald Rivers each had their struggles. Lockett could only do so much from the sidelines, providing encouragement in street clothes.

"I really don't know how much of a difference I would've made just being in there," Lockett said. "Just the presence, I guess, with me being known for talking and speaking and not being quiet when we're on the field and off the field. That would've probably made a difference.

"But performance-wise, I really can't say, just because you have to be in there to really know what you can do. I guess it was just more vocal. I was talking on the sideline, but there's only a certain extent you can say when you're in pads and out of pads."

Lockett said he had no tentativeness in practice. Actually, he felt he probably overexerted himself. The last few weeks have been tumultuous. Returning to his normal routine was almost sublime.

"This has been balled up for almost two weeks now," he said. "It had to come out somewhere. I probably overexerted myself. That's probably what I was tired. I'm just anxious, giddy, waiting for Saturday."

Sawyer "alright" with career debut:

Redshirt freshman Charles Sawyer made his Ole Miss debut in Saturday's loss to JSU.

And while it wasn't the coming-out party he'd hoped for, the talented cornerback found some bright spots in an otherwise inconsistent performance by the Rebel secondary.

Charles Sawyer

"I did alright," he said. "I've got some more improvement to do. I've just got to stay focused while I'm playing."

As expected, he felt some butterflies upon taking the field for his first career action. Not that he read too much into them.

"It was exciting," Sawyer said. "Everybody's going to have butterflies. It you don't, that means you ain't ready. Butterflies come from you always wanting to do good."

Sawyer and company will be tested for the second consecutive week. Tulane features a variation of the spread offense, often implementing four or even five receiver sets. It's a matchup Sawyer is looking forward to.

"Those games are more simple, because you can play the receiver," he said. "You've just got to cover them. The spread is mostly what corners want."

Outside of the game plan, the strategy, defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix has hammered home for his unit to finish. In every drill, from the defensive line to the cornerbacks, members of the defense are responding to the challenge, determined to never allow an equal embarrassment to Jacksonville State to happen again.

"We've got to finish. You see the result," Sawyer said. "We just didn't finish. We backed down and they came back. As a defense, you've just got to finish your opponent. If you're up, then stay up. If you're down, you've got to finish to win."

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