Ole Miss senior Free Safety Kendrick Lewis felt something in his shin area give when he was rolled up on in the UAB game.
Lewis doesn't fear much in this world, but even he admitted to being a little "scared" of the results.
"It was a big scare. I didn't know what it was, but I had a feeling it was bad," said Lewis. "It hurt bad for a few minutes, but the X-Ray showed nothing, thankfully, and I went back in to finish the game."
Arguably, Lewis falls into the category of irreplaceable to the Rebel defense.
Besides being the vocal leader of an Ole Miss defense that has been surprisingly good most of the time, Lewis has made plays.
The converted wide receiver is second on the team with 34 tackles, has one tackle for a loss despite playing centerfield in the Rebel scheme, and is tied with CB Cassius Vaughn for most pass breakups with five. He has also forced a fumble.
"Kendrick has come up big for us this year," said Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix after the UAB game. "It sent a little chill down our backs when we thought he was injured."
Now, the Rebels face their biggest aerial attack challenge of the year thus far in the Arkansas Razorbacks and QB Ryan Mallett. Lewis, thank goodness, will be healthy for the encounter.
"I watched two of their games today (Monday). Arkansas' offense is balanced - they can run and throw - so we have to prepare for everything and be on our toes," Kendrick stated. "Mallett has the best arm we have seen so far and he has some great receivers to compliment him.
"Mallett stands in the pocket with good poise and is calm. I've seen him take some hits and still be able to deliver the ball on target. He doesn't seem to rattle easily under pressure. We are going to have to play very sound assignment football against them."
Lewis said the Rebels hope to build off the UAB victory and the first opponent to take on - the Hogs - will present a major challenge.
"We fell out of the national picture with two tough losses, but that has not demoralized us - it's just made us hungrier," he continued. "We will work hard, play hard and do everything we can to get back in the race, but to do that we are going to have to play extremely well against some excellent teams, starting with Arkansas."
The Rebel defense ranks third in the SEC, behind Florida and Alabama, in scoring defense and is fifth in the conference in total defense.
"We are a good defense, but there is still room for improvement," Lewis said. "We can get even better in all aspects. We can all step up a little more and do an even better job.
"To me, the key is just working harder. We have to pay attention to detail, watch more film, study more, get to know our opponents better and then apply that to the game. You need to know everything about your opponent and then bring that to the games with the maximum effort you can possibly give. That's what it is all about."
But he does admit it's also about a mindset too.
"We are doing well in the Red Zone because we all have the will not to let the opponents score when they get down there," he noted. "We have the attitude that we aren't going to let anyone score and we have committed to stopping people before they score."
Lewis is all about selling out - giving everything you have to make a contribution to the team - and that's why he has been impressed with true frosh LBs D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight.
"They put in the commitment in the summer to make an impact and that's what they are doing. It's good to see their hard work paying off in playing time and to see them produce," Kendrick assessed. "That's what it takes is a total commitment and they figured that out early on."
The free-wheeling, high-flying Lewis expects a major tug-of-war against the Razorbacks, but that's how he approaches every game.
"You have to expect a tough game every time you go out on the field. We know how close Arkansas was to beating the number one team in the country and we know the type of players they have," Kendrick closed. "To expect anything less than a great game would be foolish. We will be excited when Saturday rolls around and I'm sure they will be too."
Kendrick Lewis -
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