Veteran players on both sides of the ball are sounding off about the upcoming Ole Miss football season as the Rebels look to build significantly on their 5-5 record last year.
On defense, fifth-year senior DL Tariqious Tisdale is ready to prove doubters wrong. He said he knows that the defense from last year’s team needs improvement, but says he and his teammates are ready for the challenge.
“We let the naysayers do what they do and talk, but they don’t see us except on Saturdays. They don’t see all of the work we have put in this off-season. I feel like this year we have a new mindset,” Tisdale said.
If that defense does significantly improve, then the Rebels could prove extremely dangerous this fall. Despite giving up over 500 yards per game, the Rebels were rarely out of any games, in part because of head coach Lane Kiffin’s high-powered offense. That’s always been the knock on Kiffin-coached teams: huge offensive production that dazzles, but defenses that often become afterthoughts. Tisdale and the rest of the landshark defense want to change that narrative.
“We definitely have a chip on our shoulder, and we have a lot to prove to a lot of people,” Tisdale said.
Even a slight uptick in defensive production could mean the difference between an average season and a special one, thanks to an offense that is sure to put up big numbers once again this year. The offense averaged 39.2 points per game last season during a COVID-shortened, ten-game slate. The Rebels lost All-American receiver Elijah Moore to the draft (NY Jets 2nd rounder), but will return starting QB Matt Corral and receivers Dontario Drummond, Jonathan Mingo, and Braylon Sanders.
Sanders said he wants to take things one day at a time, but he is ready to see what the Rebels can accomplish this fall.
“I’m not just going to say I’m that guy. We have plenty of guys in the room that can step up and make plays. That’s what we’ve been working toward over the summer. Everybody is going to be the receiver to step up this year. I feel like it’s going to be a good year for us,” said Sanders.
Sanders is also enthusiastic about having Corral throwing the football to him this season.
“That makes me feel great, just knowing that it’s Matt. Seeing what he can do, what he did last year and what he has done this summer and this off-season, you can see it’s only going to get better for him and for everybody on the team. With his leadership skills growing this summer and just taking over the room and just being more vocal, he’s set for a big year,” he said.
No matter what happens in 2021, it’s safe to say that anticipation for football has never been higher in Oxford than it is right now. Kiffin has been known to abruptly leave for greener pastures, taking his high-powered offensive genius with him, but for now, he’s a Rebel, and the sky is the limit for this bunch.
“Ole Miss Rebels dot, dot, dot. We are coming for everything in 2021,” Sanders added, excitedly.