Friday, September 30, 2022

No. 21 Ole Miss to Host Troy in Season Opener

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com

No. 21 Ole Miss opens the 2022 football season playing host to the Troy Trojans. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and can be seen on SEC Network.

Ole Miss (0-0) head coach Lane Kiffin heads into his third season at the helm with back-to-back bowl appearances. Last season, Ole Mis finished with a 10-3 overall record and the first 10-win regular season in program history. Dating back to Nov. 14, 2020, the Rebels have won nine straight home contests.

The Rebels return 45 letterwinners from the 2021 team. Kiffin will have to replace Matt Corral at quarterback with either Jaxson Dart or Luke Altmyer and a whole new stable of running backs.

The Trojans, coming off a 5-7 season in 2021, welcome back 23 players who started at least one game last season, including nine who started all 12 games. Those returning include wide receivers Jabre Barber and Tez Johnson, both coming off stellar second years. Barber caught 32 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson compiled 67 receptions for 735 yards and four touchdowns. The sophomore finished second in the league with 67 catches on the year and led all Sun Belt receivers (min. 80 targets) with a 72.0 reception percentage.

Trojans leading rusher Kimani Vidal returns after 727 yards and five touchdown last year. The team lost quarterback, Taylor Powell, but Gunnar Watson, who led the team in passing yards and passing touchdowns, will be back.

On the defensive side, sophomore Javon Solomon and junior Richard Jibunor are ready to cause chaos in the backfield again this season. The duo combined for 19 sacks, 90 tackles and 3 forced fumbles. The Trojans’ defense was second in sacks in the Sun Belt with 38 and led in interceptions with 16. Jibunor, TJ Harris, KJ Robertson, and Zion Williams led the team with two interceptions each. All four are returning for the 2022 season.

The Trojans are now under head coach Jon Sumrall in his first stint as a head coach. Sumrall previously worked under Mark Stoops’s staff at Kentucky as the co-defensive coordinator. He coached the Wildcats’ inside linebackers for the squad that finished second in the SEC East in 2021. The Wildcats defense allowed 17 or fewer points in seven of its 12 games in 2021 and held No. 1 Georgia to its second-lowest offensive output of the season. Kentucky finished the 2021 season with the nation’s No. 25 defense in addition to ranking third in fourth-down defense, 20th in rushing defense and 13th in defensive touchdowns. Prior to his stint at Kentucky, Sumrall was the linebackers coach at Ole Miss.

Saturday will be only the second all-time meeting between Ole Miss and Troy. In the 2013 season, Ole Miss defeated Troy 51-21, but the win was vacated due to the NCAA.

Follow @HottyToddySprts on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.


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