Ole Miss’ Rommel Mageo getting another start at linebacker

Published 6:58 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The wheel of starting linebackers has been given another turn this week, and it has landed on graduate transfer Rommel Mageo once again. During his weekly press conference on Monday, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze announced the former Oregon State player will start at the Mike linebacker position during the Rebels’ game against Georgia Southern on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPNU).

Mageo played less than 10 snaps against Auburn last week and did not record a tackle, but his effort impressed Freeze well enough to earn the nod at a position that is need of stability.

“(Mageo) played in I think six snaps and in all six he was sound and in the right spot,” Freeze said. “He will get the start (at Mike).”

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In his first season with Ole Miss, Mageo has played in seven games and started in one with 16 total tackles.

Mike linebacker may be resolved for this week, but Freeze is still unsure who will be starting at the stinger, or outside, position. DeMarquis Gates had an MRI on his knee on Sunday, and Freeze got the results Monday afternoon. If Gates is unable to go on Saturday, then Willie Hibbler and Detric Bing-Dukes would help out at Mike with Mageo, and Tayler Polk, Ray Ray Smith and Temario Strong will rotate at Stinger.

“(Gates) definitely did not play well, was not mobile, did not move around very well and was not physical,” Freeze said. “It will be hard to say (Monday) sitting here that with his knee issue that he would be the guy that we would go to right now.”

Attendance frustrations
Full seats, empty seats and attendance in general is not something Freeze has ever acknowledged before when asked or given his opinion unsolicited. When Ole Miss led Auburn 22-20 at halftime and Freeze came back out with his team to see some of the student section emptied out, he gave his thoughts about the situation when asked on Monday.

“Many of our students are loyal, great supporters and help make our home atmosphere a difficult one to play in,” Freeze said. “Does it bother me that some seats are empty at an SEC Western Division game with a (two)-point halftime game when you come out? It does. I would hope that they would stay for that, and many do. I wish the ones that choose to leave will certainly reconsider it because we need their support.”

Today’s practice will be open for students to come and watch in an effort enhance the connection between the two entities. Practice will begin at 4:15 p.m.

Feeling the part?
Hope were high, beyond high, for Ole Miss at the start of the season. Three games against top-15 opponents in their first four games, including Florida State and Alabama. Those four games have come and gone along with three more, and the Rebels are sitting at the bottom of the SEC West standings at 3-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play.

“Today I do,” Freeze said when asked Monday if he felt like a five-loss team. “If you look at the five teams we’ve lost to — Florida State, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, which sticks in my craw pretty good because I think the other four had better talent on those nights — even though we made mistakes, we could have won some of those games for sure. …You look at it and say we have certainly been beaten by quality opponents. That doesn’t make it feel any better though.”