It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
This season, things are going to look different. Ole Miss fans have to accept that.
There’s an abnormal helping of uncertainty heading into Saturday’s season opener which will, itself, answer only a few of the questions that linger over this team.
It’s no secret that success or failure this season rests squarely on the ability of transfers to quickly get up to speed and prove they are legit and not just products of the systems or smaller schools they left. Throughout the season, we’ll be tracking the contributions of transfers in various ways.
Today, let’s talk about the Ole Miss depth chart that was released Monday afternoon.
Isheem Young is a clear starter at strong safety
I’ve been very vocal about my excitement around Isheem Young, recently picking him as the breakout star of the year for the Ole Miss defense. He’s undersized at 5’10” 215 lbs., but Young launches himself at the ball with reckless abandon you want to see in a box-loading safety.
I love safeties that play with a quick & violent trigger downhill.— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) August 29, 2021
Isheem Young-Iowa St. pic.twitter.com/pKQhLsbsdp
Michael Trigg didn’t earn the outright starting role
Obviously an OR doesn’t mean he won’t start on Saturday, but it’s a little surprising that Trigg, whose talent could earn him a starting role in the NFL, couldn’t solidify the role as permanently his. Casey Kelly is a good tight end who offers solid blocking and an unheralded ability to catch the ball, but he doesn’t have the upside of Michael Trigg. If Trigg isn’t able to win the starting role moving forward, it will be a pretty big disappointment.
USC’s TE Michael Trigg is a BAD man pic.twitter.com/1VOQYqWjvS— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) August 19, 2021
Neither transfer linebacker distanced himself from the competition
At TCU, Khari Coleman was named the Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year. At Central Michigan, Troy Brown was named first-team All-MAC three times. Now, both are stuck in ongoing battles for starting roles with Ashanti Cistrunk (a senior who finished last season with thirty tackles while bouncing between linebacker and safety) and Austin Keys (a sophomore who had twelve tackles through six games last season before suffering an injury). It’s not that I dislike Cistrunk or Keys, in fact I really liked Keys’ game last year before his injury, and Cistrunk performed well at times, it’s just that Coleman and, especially, Brown were brought in to be the replacements to Chance Campbell and Mark Robinson and clearly haven’t been able to match that. There’s obviously plenty of time, but a position that needed direction and certainty is still lacking both.
Zach Evans doesn’t have an OR next to his name
Like Young, I’ve made my Zach Evans thoughts known. He’s going to crush souls this season before declaring for the NFL draft. We should enjoy him while we have him.
I would take Zach Evans over Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall 10/10 times. pic.twitter.com/ZjJ3r9KgR6— parker (@statsowar) September 13, 2021
There is uncertainty around Mason Brooks
Mason Brooks is listed as the starter at right tackle on that depth chart, but word out of camp has been that redshirt freshman Jayden Williams may be forcing the hand of the coaches a bit. Williams profiles as a left tackle and has been hard to justify keeping off the field. The problem, of course, is that Jeremy James, a proven commodity, is slated to start at that position.
So the team has been working on shifting James over to the right tackle spot to clear the way for Williams. That leaves Brooks the potential odd man out. As a senior transfer, I’m sure that’s hard to stomach. Hopefully Brooks, if he doesn’t start, is able to push his way into playing meaningful snaps as a backup.