C.J. Moore’s torn pectoral muscle will likely require a 4-5 month recovery period, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Jason Jones said after practice on Tuesday.
Moore’s injury was made public by Matt Luke at Monday’s press conference, but they had hoped Moore would only be out a couple of weeks. Luke said it could possibly be longer and it now appears that Moore’s career at Ole Miss is over. Luke said on Monday Armani Linton would move back to safety after transitioning to running back this offseason and now another running back will join him.
Freshman Tylan Knight took reps at safety at practice on Tuesday and defense will be his main focus in the near future, according to Jones.
“He did a really good job today,” Jones said. “He has a lot of instincts and is a fast learner in terms of learning our terminology. He is savvy.”
Knight played both ways in high school and tallied 117 tackles as a senior and 123 as a junior. Jones did not know if Knight will play both ways going forward, but anticipates Knight progressing enough to help the defense sooner than later.
“That is up to Coach Luke,” Jones said. “He talented enough to help us on both sides of the ball. It all depends on what he is able to do and that there isn’t too much on his plate. Right now I think he is focusing more on the defensive side of the ball.”
Knight could possibly play some corner. He played man-to-man coverage in the nickel slot at practice, but did not slide out to corner. Jones did not rule out Knight playing corner eventually. The move comes two weeks after Knight had six carries for 62 yards against Kent State, including a 41-yard run. The staff is being cautious with how much they put on Knight’s plate at one time.
“We can tell, Jones said. “If he has too much on his plate in practice, we can tell. We chart mental errors and things like that. If we look at it and see a lot of mental errors then maybe there’s too much on him, and we need to take something off his plate.”
Linton began working with the secondary on Tuesday as well. He played safety his first two years at Ole Miss before the move this offseason. Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff described him as a “plug-and-play guy” on Monday. It sounds as if both Linton and Knight will contribute in the near future.
“He is a smart young man,” Jones said. “Because he has played defense before, that was a smooth transition.”
— The story of the day was clearly Ole Miss’ rapidly deteriorating depth in the secondary. C.J. Miller took reps at safety in place of Moore. It appeared as if freshman Jakorey Hawkins took some reps with the second team at safety as well.
— Kevontae’ Ruggs will be suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game due to a targeting ejection against LSU. He was not in the linebacker rotation at practice. Willie Hibbler took his at OLB alongside Mohamed Sanogo in the middle. Donta Evans got reps with the second team linebackers with Jacquez Jones.
— A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf were back at practice after suffering minor injuries.