An already thin Ole Miss defensive line will be even thinner against South Alabama, with the news that starting defensive end Qaadir Sheppard is “likely out” for Saturday’s contest, according to Ben Garrett of the Ole Miss Spirit.
In an interview following Wednesday’s practice, head coach Matt Luke revealed that Sheppard is still in a walking boot after suffering a knee injury during fall camp. We here at Red Cup Rebellion understand that this has been a whirlwind offseason, so for those of you wondering “Who the hell is Qaadir Sheppard?” here’s a quick rundown of his journey to Ole Miss and why his injury matters.
Sheppard arrived in Oxford last year following a one year stint with Syracuse that he himself described as “wild” and ended with two failed drug tests. He watched from the sidelines last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he proved himself in spring camp by beating out veteran Victor Evans for the starting defensive end spot.
He may not be a familiar name, but Sheppard is a former high school wide receiver who now comes in at 6’3 and 249 lbs. He has the size and athleticism necessary to wreak havoc for an Ole Miss defensive line whose havoc rate was 99th in the country in 2016.
Of course, Sheppard’s injury is also bad news for the simple fact that Ole Miss does not have that many players on the defensive line. Victor Evans is a capable backup who played in 11 games last year. He should serve as a serviceable stopgap versus South Alabama this weekend.
But if Sheppard’s injury lingers, the Rebels’ D-line could be in trouble. The only other defensive end listed on the three-deep is Markel Winters, a Jones County JUCO transfer. In short, the Rebels need Sheppard to get well soon, ideally before the Alabama game in Week 4. Marquis Haynes can’t get all of the sacks, after all.