Lockett, Reb 'D' getting better

Kentrell Lockett had his best game in the Rebels' 17-7 win over Auburn. That was Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt's evaluation.

"Kentrell played his best game as an Ole Miss Rebel," Nutt said. "He made tackles and put pressure on their quarterback and just did a lot of good things for us."

Lockett agreed it was a good day for him.

"I kind of fell in the groove and played football, played football like I know how to play football and had fun on the field," said the 6-foot-5, 247-pound defensive end.

He did all that and more against the Tigers, helping the Rebel defense hold a Southeastern Conference offense to just one score, certainly an excellent days' work no matter the competition.

Lockett was credited with seven tackles, four of them solos, as well as 2.5 sacks in the game as the Rebs moved to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in SEC action, sending Auburn home 4-5 and 2-4.

Lockett, a sophomore civil engineering major, said it's all about getting better and playing in games and becoming more comfortable.

"I'm just more confident now and not afraid to throw my shoulder in there or take a block head on," he said. "It's like I'm thinking ‘You're not going to beat me. I'm going to beat you.' It's about just keeping on getting better and playing in more games."

Playing defensive end certainly can have its moments. Lockett likes the importance of the position and says you have to be aware of every situation on every play.

"You're pretty much on an island by yourself out there," he said. "You've got to set the edge. It also depends on the play calling and what Coach (Tyrone) Nix wants you to do. Other than that, you have to be an athlete out there. You're on an island by yourself."

Lockett is a little bit bigger of an island now than he was even back in August. For many players it's hard to maintain their weight during a season. Lockett has actually put on pounds since August.

"I've always tried to gain weight, and now it's funny and strange how I'm putting on weight, packing on pounds during the season," said Lockett, who weighed 240 about three months ago and is up to 247 now. "Just getting with Coach Deck (Don Decker), doing extra workouts with him and the staff has helped. I'm working out four times a week, and I'm eating more, drinking shakes and everything, and it's just benefiting me."

And benefiting his team, as last weekend's effort surely proved.

"I feel stronger. I'm not being thrown around any more on the field. I'm holding my own," Lockett said. "I guess maybe I'm throwing people out of the way now. Just stepping up and playing football."

Lockett said practice is important, but that a player can only get so much better in practice.

"But when you get in a game and actually see game speed and the opponent, you kind of get into a groove and get a feel for the person in front of you," he said. "Then you can react to what he's going to do, because you have played against him for a couple of quarters. You have a feel for him and get comfortable. That will help you make plays down the stretch."

Lockett likes the way the Rebel defense is stepping up, especially as it did against Auburn.

"That was real big for us, holding a running team under a hundred yards," he said. "It just shows how our D-Line works and how our defense works. Just executing everything Coach Nix tells us to do."

Lockett also credits defensive line coach Tracy Rocker for telling them to be the first line of attack, to do their jobs and not wait until a linebacker or safety has a shot. Take care of it the first thing, and everybody on the defense benefits.

"It's like Coach Rocker always tells us, we get the first shot at the running back passing before us. So why not get him the first time, and don't let the linebackers get him before us. It's pretty much a little competition to see who can get the first shot at him. We get the first shot, so why not stop him the first time we get him."

Certainly that's the plan Lockett and the Rebel defenders hope to continue. With no game this Saturday, the Rebels have back to back games against Louisiana foes the following two weekends.

The Hahnville, La., native looks forward to playing Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana State.

"I know a lot of guys on the two teams coming up," Lockett said. "We've been talking, been jawing, e-mails, text messages. It makes the games fun."

So does winning, and Lockett said it feels so good to have something to play for this late in the season.

"The next game is always the biggest game," he said. "It just so happens that we can get our sixth win if we win the next game. We can become bowl eligible. We'll just come out and play Ole Miss football. We're playing for something now in November."


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