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Ole Miss Monday presser notes: Givens day-to-day, Rebels embrace underdog role heading to Memphis

Ole Miss held its first Monday press conference of the year as it transitions into game week preparation for its season opener at Memphis. The team released an updated depth chart and Matt Luke provided a couple injury updates and more.

Some quick-hitting notes from Monday’s availability:

— Alex Givens is questionable, according to Luke. The senior tackle continues to rehab from a back procedure he endured July 18. Givens missed virtually all of fall camp, aside from doing individual work on the sidelines last week, and has yet to practice in shoulder pads. Givens has played enough football to be up to speed from a schematic standpoint by Saturday, but his conditioning is a hurdle that will be more difficult to clear.

— Ole Miss released its game week depth chart on Monday. There weren’t any major surprises, but a few interesting, and possibly telling tweaks. Michael Howard is listed as the starting left tackle and Bryce Mathews is listed as Givens’ back up at right tackle. The lack of depth on this offensive line has been the overarching story of camp, and Givens’ absence only amplified that. The Rebels do not have the luxury of a Jordan Sims or Sean Rawlings — guys who played multiple positions well and were experienced. The Rebels are hoping Mathews can be that.

“I think Bryce is a guy who can do it and will do a good job at it,” Luke said. “He gives us that utility player. He is a veteran that has played every position, including center, so he gives us some comfort. He is a mature kid and will do well at any position he starts at.”

Keidron Smith and Myles Hartsfield are listed as the starting corners. Jaylon Jones is the odd man out, something Luke says is little more than a formality. All three will play a lot of snaps. Jones has fully recovered from a torn ACL he suffered in the season opener last year and his repaired knee did not factor into the decision.

Lakia Henry is listed as the starting inside linebacker next to Sanogo. Henry worked his way up the depth chart toward the end of fall camp. He did not go through spring practice, which isn’t typically the norm for junior college guys, but quickly picked up on  Mike MacIntyre’s  scheme and earned the starting nod.

— The back up quarterback situation will be a play-it-by-ear type of thing, Luke said. John Rhys Plumlee and Grant Tisdale are the two guys gunning for the opportunity to back up Matt Corral. Tisdale had the benefit of going through spring football, which Rich Rodriguez noted put him slightly ahead from a mental standpoint. But Plumlee’s athleticism and ability to extend plays with his feet make him an enticing option.

“They four-game rule gives us some flexibility,” Luke said. “They each bring something different to the table. We will just have to see how it works out.”

 

Rich Rodriguez offered his perspective on the evolution of Matt Corral throughout camp, how quickly the offense as a whole has picked up the scheme, Memphis’ defense and more.

— Mike MacIntyre talks Memphis quarterback Brady White, what makes the Tigers’ running attack so difficult to stop and more.

PHOTO CREDIT — Ole Miss Athletics

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