Kiffin Respects MSU OL

Ole Miss DL Coach Chris Kiffin knows his guys will be facing a "tough" offensive line Saturday when the Rebels square off against Mississippi State, but he believes the Rebel defensive line will be ready.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze singled out the Mississippi State offensive line as one of the Bulldogs' strengths in his Monday press conference.

Rebel DL Coach Chris Kiffin has studied them extensively and exclusively. His thoughts?

"They do a good job. Their inside guys will fight you, get their hands on you and play the tough game. Their tackles are longer and more athletic," he noted. "I've showed my guys all that all week and they're up for the challenge. They're fired up about it."

Statistically, the Bulldogs don't give up many quarterback sacks. Kiffin attributes a lot of that to the MSU offensive system.

"Their scheme and play-calling helps protect their quarterback," he stated. "They play-action you and what they do protection-wise is different. If you watch film on them, their quarterback takes a lot of shots.

"I've shown my guys the hits on the quarterback and we plan to continue that."

DE C.J. Johnson played one series in the first half against LSU and could not go beyond that. He is expected to be back for the Egg Bowl.

"I just had him do leg work (Tuesday) - I told him to get 100 get-offs and 100 (Wednesday). I'm not concerned about him practicing this week," Kiffin said. "All I want him to do is keep his timing. If he's healthy, he's a ballplayer, he won't miss a beat."

Kiffin was pleased with the way freshman Channing Ward took up the slack at DE against LSU.

Channing Ward
File Photo

"He played really well. When the game got tight, I went with the guys I trust more, but when I went back and watched the film, I probably should have let him play a little more down the stretch. He did really well when he was in there," Kiffin said.

"We've had an injury or two and all of a sudden he's getting more practice reps and that's helped to accelerate his progress some.

"That's why it's so important for us to get to a bowl game so we can get those extra practices and then a spring training. That would be awesome for him."

Senior Jason Jones' role also expanded with Johnson out.

"Jason's been awesome. He's been the ultimate leader for us in the way he carries himself, the way he talks and the fact that he's a great practice player," Kiffin assessed. "His work ethic has rubbed off on the younger guys.

"Jason has also be very patient this year. With the way we did our ends, he was backing up C.J. and not getting the reps he should have as our second-best end, but Cameron (Whigham) was solid on the other side. Jason just hung in there and when C.J. got hurt, he rose to the challenge with six tackles against LSU.

"He's my best technique guy and one of the hardest-working kids you would want."

Kiffin said his tackle rotation would remain the same with Gilbert Pena, Bryon Bennett, Uriah Grant and Issac Gross getting the bulk of play and Carlton Martin and Woodrow Hamilton getting spot play.

"We'll be ready for this game," he closed. "We're all excited about the opportunity and fired up about playing in a rivalry game."

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