By John Macon Gillespie
It’s no secret that Lane Kiffin and his staff are implementing new systems for Ole Miss on the gridiron this season, and one of the most affected areas is expected to be the passing game.
Media members were given access to Ole Miss wide receiver Dannis Jackson on Wednesday, and Jackson and the rest of the receiver room are entering the 2020 season with a chip on their shoulder. Outside of Elijah Moore, no Ole Miss receiver eclipsed the 200-yard mark in receiving yards last season, and Jackson believes this gives the group something to prove.
“I think the whole second group we have can all make plays,” Jackson said. “That’s one good thing about our receiving room right now that most people don’t know: that we’ve got players.”
Jackson himself only had 80 yards receiving last season, but he feels he can make a bigger impact in the new Rebel offense.
“I think confidence is all it was,” Jackson said. “Coming from high school, it’s easier there, but everything speeds up. You just have to adjust. Some people take longer than others.”
As far as what is different about this Ole Miss offense, Jackson stated that he and other receivers are gaining more opportunities to make plays than a season ago. Lane Kiffin is known for implementing pro-style offenses at his previous stops, and it is expected that he has brought this mindset to Ole Miss as well.
“We’re throwing the ball a lot more than we were,” Jackson said, “but I think my role is just to come in and make plays when they need me. If they need speed or things like that. I think the receivers do have a lot more freedom and a lot more opportunities to make plays, and that’s all we needed.”
Jackson also commented on the secondary that he faces every day in practice. Earlier in camp, the Rebels’ defensive back room was decimated by injury and COVID-19, but Jackson bragged on the unit as a whole, especially JUCO-transfer Jamar Richardson.
“The secondary looks good,” Jackson said. “Jamar, he’s a very quick and fast person. I think he’s going to make plays in the game. But they all look good for the most part.”
Although the Rebels struggled at times in the passing game last season, Jackson states that the receiver room didn’t take any of the criticism to heart.
“We didn’t take it personally,” Jackson said. “We know what we have in our room. We let the outside do the outside talking.”
Regardless, Jackson knows that if Kiffin’s offense is to work in Oxford, he and his fellow receivers will be called on more than they were last season, and he and his teammates are bringing an air of optimism into the 2020 season.
“I just see receivers going out and making plays,” Jackson said.“That’s all we can do. Everything else is up to the coaches. You’re going to see us making plays, a lot more than we did last year.”
Ole Miss kicks off its conference-only season on Sept. 26 at home against nationally-ranked Florida.