Work in Progress

Terry Price, his defensive line struggling through five games and decimated by injury, has a precarious situation on his hands.

Kentrell Lockett, his lone senior at defensive end, is out for the season. Junior college transfer Wayne Dorsey has yet to catch up with the speed of the Division-I level. A collection of underclassmen are being relied upon to contribute.

The numbers aren't pretty. Collectively, his unit has registered just seven of Ole Miss' 13 sacks. D.T. Shackelford, a linebacker and situational rush end, has proven to be Ole Miss' most effective pass rusher. No defensive lineman has registered double-digit tackles.

And to top it all off, a talented Alabama team, fresh off its first loss of the season, awaits this weekend.

Carlos Thompson

Price did some experimenting over the Rebels' bye week, mixing and matching to find the best front-five to start come Saturday.

Senior LaMark Armour was moved from reserve defensive tackle to first-team defensive end ahead of Dorsey. Freshmen Cameron Whigham and Carlos Thompson were given added looks in practice.

"We've just now started the process, but anytime you lose a guy like Kentrell Lockett, you've got to find someone who can hopefully take up the slack or a combination of guys who can take up the slack," Price said. "That's kind of what we're doing and the evaluation process we're having every day in practice."

Armour's promotion is significant. Originally a defensive end, the sixth-year senior has predominately worked along the interior over his career. But with Dorsey not having the impact as was hoped, Armour is being called upon to bring stability opposite sophomore Gerald Rivers.

"LaMark does not have the ideal burst we are looking for off the edge, but he's physical and certainly doesn't get knocked around out there," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. "He's also a little quicker off the ball than you might think. So far, he's looked pretty good out there. We'll see where that takes us."

"He's done some good things," Price added. "He's got a lot to learn, but obviously he's a senior. He's played a lot of football and he's played that position. We're bringing him along. A lot of guys will get a shot at that position."

Whigham has been sidelined due to injury, but is nearing full health. His absence was felt through September, considering he practiced with the team during Cotton Bowl preparations last December, as well as in spring practices.

"I've seen more reps," he said. "It's a good opportunity. Coach (Price) came to me and told me I needed to get healthy. I'm trying to get some reps against Alabama."

Another newcomer, Carlos Thompson, could also see added time. The true freshman has been limited himself, having missed action due to a groin injury. Still, he possesses a similar body type and quickness to Lockett.

"With the bye week, this was a chance to show what we could do and to show our skills," Thompson said. "(Playing time) depends on how we do in practice. If we do well, we'll be playing against Alabama. It's a good opportunity.

"I still got a lot of work to do. I've got to focus a lot harder to get better. I've got to enhance my skills a little bit."

Regardless of the combination used against Alabama, defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix only wants consistency.

"We are just looking for guys who can make a play, especially in passing situations," he said. "Who is the guy who gives us the best chance to get pressure on the quarterback?"

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