No. 14 Ole Miss tries to build depth in game vs. NMSU

Published 10:10 am Friday, October 9, 2015

OXFORD – It’s not even halfway through the football season and No. 14 Mississippi already is a beat-up team.

Starting linebacker C.J. Johnson was the latest to join several Rebels on the sideline, including safety Tony Conner and defensive tackle Issac Gross. Johnson had surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus and is expected to be out four to six weeks.

Couple the injury news with the reality that the Rebels were embarrassed last week in a 38-10 loss to Florida and the mood has been a little apprehensive in Oxford.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Coach Hugh Freeze said now is not the time to lose faith.

“We need to circle the wagons, own what we did, own what we didn’t do, and we still have a lot to play for and a long season left,” Freeze said. “We can’t operate like the rest of the world and put our hands in the air. We have to get back to work.”

Considering all the bad news, it’s probably a good thing that the Rebels’ schedule is a little lighter this week. Ole Miss (4-1) is a 431/2-point on Saturday when it hosts New Mexico State (0-4).

Ole Miss will likely rest several of starters, including multiple offensive linemen. That should give young players the opportunity for ample playing time as the Rebels try to build depth for a difficult stretch run that includes games against Texas A&M, LSU and rival Mississippi State.

“I believe that this team will respond, no question,” Freeze said. “We have the ability to be one of the best teams in the country.”

DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer