Marry, Thompson make marks

MLB Mike Marry got his first start as a Rebel. DE Carlos Thompson got more playing time. Both left an impression. Read about it inside.

For Ole Miss freshman Middle Linebacker Mike Marry, his first start against Louisiana Saturday night in a 43-21 Rebel win was everything he had hoped and prepared for.

Marry ended the game with a team-leading 11 tackles, two for losses, and one quarterback sack.

"I did my job," said the soft spoken Marry, who missed most of August camp with a hamstring pull. "I was pleased with I played for the first time out, but I missed a few things and can do better.

"I'll just go back to work and do my best to get better. It's a process and I'm starting to make up for the time I missed in August. I'm catching up. I got way behind because August camp is the most important part of the season in terms of preparation, but I'm getting back in a groove now, I think."

Marry was pressed into duty when senior Jonathan Cornell had a hip injury in the Auburn game.

Mike Marry

It was thought the coaches may opt for D.T. Shackelford to replace Cornell, but they had other plans for him - a full-scale defensive end assignment.

"I tried to pattern my game after what Jonathan does. He reads things quickly and reacts quickly and that's what I'm trying to do," noted Marry, who was a greyshirt last fall and joined the team for on-campus Cotton Bowl practices and then spring training. "If we do what the coaches tell us to do, the plays are there to be made, but it's all about taking care of your responsibilities and playing within the system.

"Our coaches always give us a good plan. It's up to us to execute it."

Mike got some action against Auburn and got an eye-opening experience.

"You have to recognize things quickly, line up correctly, react quickly and play fast," he summarized. "If you don't play hard every play, you can get burned in a hurry.

"It's also a matter of being ready. You have to do a lot of film work on this level. Offenses run so many different formations at you and you have to have some familiarity with what they might do out of certain formations. It's fast, real fast. You have to make sure you put in the time and effort to prepare yourself."

Marry was 250 pounds when he reported for active duty during Cotton Bowl practices, but he realized he would have to trim down if he was going to remain at linebacker. Any more weight and he would have probably been a defensive end, something he wanted to avoid if he could.

"I was recruited as a linebacker and want to play linebacker, but I knew in spring I had to get down to 235 or so to stay fast enough to play LB," he explained.

"I like linebacker and will do what is necessary to stay there. I was given a weight plan at the end of spring and stuck with it. I'm at 238 now and can tell a big difference in my movement and conditioning. I'm also quick enough now to get myself in position to deliver a hit rather than taking the hit."

It's anticipated Cornell will return for the game this weekend against Tennessee if he continues to progress. He dressed out for the Louisiana game, but was not needed.

Either way, Marry has gone a long way in proving himself to be game ready.

True frosh DE Carlos Thompson also got more playing time last Saturday than he's been getting and responded with a quarterback sack.

"It felt real good to get my first college sack," said Thompson, a 6-5, 230-pounder. "I was really excited to be out there with my teammates and to make something positive happen.

"I just came off the ball 100 percent and got an opening to make a play. It fell into place for me."

Carlos Thompson

Carlos is working hard to gain weight. He knows that will be necessary for his future. He has put on 12 pounds since his arrival back in the summer, but realizes he needs quite a bit more to be where he wants to be.

"I want to put on at least 20 pounds before next season. It will make a lot of difference in my strength and ability to beat blockers. Right now, I'm just working with speed. I want to become more versatile and be able to use speed and strength. I want to be the whole package in time."

Thompson believes his recognition and comfort level is improving.

"The more I'm out there playing, the more I see things and the more comfortable I get with what I am seeing," he added. "I know my assignments a lot better than I did in August, that's for sure."

Carlos knows he has to step up now with Kentrell Lockett and Gerald Rivers out.

"I got a little behind with a groin injury earlier in the year, but I'm healthy now and starting to do things better, the way the coaches want them done," he ended. "With Lockett and Rivers out now, I have no choice. I have to step up.

"It probably would have been ideal for me to redshirt if we hadn't had the injuries, but that can't be helped. I'm on scholarship and if I'm needed, I will do my best to be ready."

The future of the Ole Miss defense will depend largely on the younger players currently on the roster.

Mike Marry and Carlos Thompson are a good starting point, as they are currently proving.

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