Happy Ole Miss fall camp 2019!
SuperTalk’s Brian Scott Rippee reported early Monday that senior offensive tackle Alex Givens had back surgery recently but the staff is hopeful that he can still be ready in time for the 2019 opener against the Memphis Tigers at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Rebels’ most-experienced lineman is a huge piece to new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez’s run game and securing the blind side for new starter Matt Corral. And this news is not what fans are wanting to hear the week fall camp starts.
Ole Miss gave this quote to the media about Givens after the news surfaced:
“To address issues that emerged this summer, Alex Givens underwent a successful surgical procedure on his lower back on July 18,” Ole Miss said in a statement from sports information director Kyle Campbell. “After receiving the medical staff’s evaluation of his progress, Givens will be limited throughout preseason camp and is hopeful to return in time for the opener.”
With the news of Givens’ absence for fall camp and possibly in game one, where will coach Jack Bicknell turn?
The obvious answers are either Michael Howard or Royce Newman. Howard, a senior, has never played a key role up front and it would be a stretch to think he could be a serviceable replacement given that he has battled keeping meaningful weight on his entire career. Newman, a junior, is supposed to be starting at guard this season but would be able to slide back outside to provide help while Givens is on the mend.
Nevertheless, replacing 24 career starts is a huge ask for a unit that is trying to replace Greg Little, Javon Patterson, and Sean Rawlings all the while battling inexperience and youth. Incoming freshmen Nick Broeker, Jeremy James, and Darius Thomas are the highest-rated signees coming in, but we all know how hard it is for true freshmen to come in, learn a new system, and take on Power 5 defensive linemen.
But, if anyone has been able to do it, Bicknell and Ole Miss have shown the ability over the years. Former Rebels Aaron Morris, Laremy Tunsil, Patterson, Little, and Rawlings all played meaningful snaps before they were properly prepared for life in the SEC so if anyone can get these guys ready to step in for Givens, it’s Bicknell and head coach Matt Luke.