Rory Johnson

In yesterday's press conference, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron declared junior Will Linebacker Rory Johnson will start getting more playing time - if he practices well this week. Johnson feels he's ready for the challenge. Read about it inside.

When Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron addressed the media Monday for his weekly press conference, he discussed some minor personnel changes he plans on instituting this week as Ole Miss prepares for their road gig against Kentucky this Saturday.

He mentioned getting CB Dustin Mouzon more involved and then intimated junior Will Linebacker Rory Johnson has to be in the lineup more.

Why?

"Speed," said Orgeron. "He's a good tackler and he's got good closing speed. We need him in the lineup."

Rory, who's only been at Ole Miss a few weeks after taking the summer to finish up some academic requirements, was glad to hear that edict.

"I think I am ready," said Johnson. "I feel very confident where I am right now. I've only been here three weeks and I have learned the whole defense, pretty much. Some things are starting to come naturally to me now."

It's the "pretty much" part that has Orgeron a little bit concerned.

"We may have to simplify some things for him, but we are willing to do that," Orgeron explained.

Rory's biggest challenge, thus far, hasn't been the learning part, in his mind.

"When I got here, I was in really bad shape. I hadn't worked out all summer much because I was concentrating on getting my grades so I could be eligible," Rory explained. "I struggled the first few days I was at practice because I was out of shape, but after the first week, I started getting my conditioning back.

"Right now, I feel like I am in great shape. I got in shape faster than I thought I would."

Rory knows he has to produce this week in practice to get more playing time or to get a starting nod.

"With Coach O, whoever practices well gets to play. How I practice this week will determine how much I get to play. I know that going into this week's practices," he added.

Johnson, whose loose-fitting clothes and glasses hide his linebacker "look" and 230-pound frame, is excited about the Rebel defense despite the 34-7 loss to Missouri last weekend.

"We're young and we're kind of banged up right now, but I think we are developing. We have young guys who are making plays," he continued. "Our problem right now is that we haven't been consistent in making plays. We are playing spotty right now, but consistency will come as we mature and heal up.

"I'll be surprised if we don't pick it up this week. Nobody on this team liked getting picked apart by Missouri because we know quite a bit of it was our fault. Missouri played well and I give them credit, but we made them look good too by our poor play."

Rory said he's looking forward to the Kentucky game - where he may get his first Rebel start, and the rest of the season.

"We're going to get better. This team has good leaders and good coaches and a lot of pride," he stated. "We just need more guys to get healthy and more guys, like me, to gain more experience. It will all come together then.

"Whether I start or not is up to the coaches, but I feel I'll play more and more as the year progresses. I just want to be ready and not let the team down," Johnson ended.


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