Seeking more production, Ole Miss ‘looking at all possibilities’ at middle linebacker
Ole Miss is once again evaluating its options in the middle of its defense.
The Rebels have gone back and forth between Donta Evans and Detric Bing-Dukes at middle linebacker through the first five games. Evans started the first two games before Bing-Dukes was inserted back into the starting lineup, but the production has been scarce with the duo combining for just 28 tackles and one tackle for loss.
Bing-Dukes, who started three games last season as part of a constant rotation there, has accounted for 21 of those stops in the four games he’s played since serving a one-game suspension for an offseason shoplifting arrest, but defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said the Rebels need more from the position.
“We’re going to constantly look at ourselves and see if we’re doing the right things to get them in position to make those plays,” McGriff said. “Right now, that’s one of our Achilles heels.”
McGriff said he may look at some different combinations, including the possibility of leading tackler DeMarquis Gates moving inside. McGriff mentioned sophomore Jarrion Street, who had three tackles in a reserve role against Auburn last week, as a candidate to get more playing time on the outside should McGriff decide to make that move.
“Just get guys more snaps,” McGriff said. “That way at least the fatigue factor is not setting in on us. We’re looking at all possibilities right now, and that’s certainly one of them.”
For the first time this season, Ole Miss’ offense featured some pre-snap shifts and motion among the wide receivers against Auburn.
It worked as the Rebels’ top four receivers each caught at least two passes. It also helped free up A.J. Brown to catch a game-high 10 balls for 109 yards after the Rebels’ leading receiver was limited to just one catch the week before against Alabama.
Offensive coordinator Phil Longo said it’s something he’d like to implement more often in the future.
“It’s kind of more of what I’m used to,” Longo said. “I think it’s more of what they’re used to here. It definitely created some advantages for us.”
Backup tight end Ty Quick was helped off the field late in Saturday’s game after spraining his MCL. Luke said Quick will likely be out for at least three weeks.
Kicker Gary Wunderlich’s hamstring continues to tighten up on him, likely making him a game-time decision this week, Luke said. The senior has missed a field goal in three different games.
Luke said Gates, defensive tackle Benito Jones and cornerback Ken Webster were “a little banged up” with unspecified injuries following Saturday’s game, but each should play this week against Vanderbilt.
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