New Role

Jordan Holder had already proven his sure-handedness as a receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels. Against Idaho, he got to be on the receiving of end punts, too.

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Holder caught one pass for eight yards in the Rebels' 59-14 wallop of the visiting Vandals. But he also fielded punts from one of the nation's best punters in Austin Rehkow.

Holder said it had been a while since he performed that duty.

"It was a comfort thing," he said of the adjustment back to doing so. "I hadn't done that in a while. I just wanted to make sure. I just wanted to feel better about it."

So he worked hard on it in practice this week.

"Probably about Wednesday," he said he knew he would catch them. "I just got in some extra reps in practice to make sure I was ready to roll, ready to go."

About like the Rebels were for this stretch run of the season. Now at 5-3 after eight games, Ole Miss has set itself up for what could be a special season. Holder has been and will continue to be an important part of that.

"I had a few butterflies going on the first one," Holder said. "I just wanted to return it and get it out of my system. After that I just calmed down and let my instincts take over."

It had been since high school days at Sylva Bay Academy in Bay Springs since he lined up to receive punts in a game. And Holder said it's a bit different at this level, like most aspects are.

"High school, which was a whole different thing," Holder said of his layoff from the punt game. "Usually they bounce before they get to you. But when you've got Tyler Campbell punting to you (in practice), you definitely see high punts and can get adjusted to it."

Jordan Holder
USA TODAY images

The Rebels led 24-7 against Idaho, who came in with just one win in seven games. Ole Miss was a six touchdown favorite by most accounts and would go on to win by more than that margin. But they had to pick up their play in the second half, and in many areas they did just that.

"It was a good building point for us," Holder said of halftime and regrouping. "It helped us fight back in the second half. We were a little sloppy in the first. But we came out strong and had fewer penalties and played for 60 minutes.

"I think everybody played today," he continued, mentioning as the Rebels' lead grew so did the number of those in Red and Blue who got into the game. "That was good for everybody to get some reps and see what everybody's got. We'll need them the rest of the season."

As for Rehkow, the Vandals' excellent punter proved to be a nice first test for Holder as he fielded them. And with that experience behind him, he'll be that much more confident the rest of the way.

"He was a very good punter," Holder said. "I think he was averaging like 48 yards (per punt) before our game. So he was up there. It was good to catch them from somebody like that. It was fun."

Actually, so is an open date week. If any college football team could use one, it's the Rebels. After a stretch of games including Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, and LSU were over, there was Idaho awaiting. After the relatively comfortable win, now there is no game this weekend.

Arkansas is up next, and that one is in Oxford as well, on Nov. 9.

"I think everybody's tired," Holder said of where things stand for Ole Miss as the Rebels head into November. "We've definitely been through the meat of our schedule. So it's good to have a (Saturday) off, not stress over who's next, and break up the routine a little bit. And get some banged up players back. So it'll be good for us."

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