Three Degrees

What's next for Ole Miss after losing OL Aaron Morris for the year and LB Denzel Nkemdiche for 4-6 weeks due to injury? Three Degrees, where we attempt to make sense of it all.

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What Happened:

Ole Miss' thrilling 39-35 win at Vanderbilt to kick off the 2013 season on Thursday came with a price. Starting left guard Aaron Morris, who entered the season with 19 career starts in 24 games, suffered a season-ending knee injury. Redshirt sophomore Denzel Nkemdiche, arguably the team's defensive leader and a freshman All-American a year ago, hurt his knee as well, though the injury was only of the 4-6 weeks variety, setting a target return for Auburn - at the earliest.

What's Next:

Ole Miss hosts Southeast Missouri Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. The Redhawks are 0-1 on the season following a 45-7 drumming at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions dominated the game, totaling 494 yards of offense. Transfer quarterback Bryan Bennett scored three touchdowns on 106 yards rushing. He threw for 169 yards.

Southeast Missouri had 11 players make their first career start in the game, with five of those players seeing their first-ever game action.

Denzel Nkemdiche
File Photo

"A lot of new faces out there, and it showed," Southeast coach Tony Samuel told the Southeast Missourian. "I thought when the lights came on there were too many bad techniques, things we have to fix. We'll just have to keep working."

Spirit's Take:

As troubling as those two injuries are, the Ole Miss coaches have to move on quickly and attack the situation. So, what now?

At outside linebacker, Nkemdiche's slot, it will be junior Serderius Bryant, who was suspended for the Vanderbilt game for breaking team rules last week. "Bird" had a terrific camp, minus the behavioral hiccup, and should be ready to go without too much dropoff at the position. The depth will probably come from junior Keith Lewis, who can play all three LB positions, and redshirt senior D.T. Shackelford, who is bright enough to play them all as well. Also look for redshirt freshman Temario Strong to get more playing time in the middle so Lewis and Shackelford can concentrate a bit more on OLB.

On the offensive line, with Morris out, the projection here is that Emmanuel McCray will probably have to play left tackle and play some inside in Morris' place. Also, Justin Bell will probably move to the left side and freshman Austin Golson and Jared Duke will work the right guard slot. It will also be key to get Patrick Junen back healthy in the coming weeks.

- Chuck Rounsville, Ole Miss Spirit Publisher

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