Hugh Freeze has said he hopes to see depth improve with the signing class.
In many spots it will. Laquon Treadwell, Quincy Adeboyejo, Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Evan Engram and others will play and will improve depth.
One of the places the Rebels also need depth is special teams.
This team gave up special teams touchdowns in the last two regular season games last year. That’s depth. They were able to overcome a kick return touchdown by MSU but not the punt return against LSU that preceded it.
Just watching the kickoff team in Tuesday’s viewing period I noticed a lot of two-deep guys getting reps on the kickoff team: Denzel Nkemdiche, DT Shackelford, Keith Lewis, Serderius Bryant, Trae Elston, Cody Prewitt.
There were also guys who can make a name for themselves on special teams like Temario Strong and Quintavius Burdette.
While Burdette has run a lot of first-team in camp, he’s probably the odd man out at corner. We’re still not seeing Senquez Golson right now, but we’re told that’s a matter of being careful with the hamstring and making sure it’s good to go and doesn’t linger through the season. If so, Golson, Sawyer and Dehendret Collins will see the most snaps at corner.
Burdette is very athletic and could be a boost on kick coverage. Remember, this is a unit that won’t have a guy who covered very well last year, Carlos Davis, for the first half of the year.
Building depth has been the battle cry for the OL, which really played about six guys last year.
I don’t think Matt Luke is going to move a lot of guys in and out, but I think he’ll have more guys he’ll feel good about if he has to pull starters or if games play out with significant snaps for the reserves.
Reserve linemen who could be the first options: The Justin Bell-Patrick Junen loser at right guard. All of camp this has looked like Junen. He was basically penciled in as a starter, but injuries have kept him out of camp until this week. On Tuesday, he was running first team, and it was Bell who was getting extra stretching from the training staff, moving slowly, and not in the reps during the viewing periods. Stay tuned.
After those two there’s clearly been a focus with Laremy Tunsil. Senior Jared Duke has had a good camp, and I’m thinking Robert Conyers could get in there to spell Evan Swindall if need be. Luke says Ben Still remains in the mix for No. 2 center also.
Conyers will probably be listed No. 2 at right tackle on the depth chart, but there appears to be a real comfort level with Tunsil and left tackle and moving Emmanuel McCray over to right tackle if Pierce Burton needs to leave the game.
At wide receiver, Donte Moncrief, Treadwell (inside) and Ja-Mes Logan are the starters. Moncrief and Logan are known commodities and pretty good ones at that. The Rebels need Treadwell to be an impact guy early to help take attention away from Moncrief.
Other candidates for the rotation will be Cody Core, Korvic Neat, Quincy Adeboyejo, Collins Moore and Jordan Holder.
Neat has experience. Holder has good hands and runs good routes. Core is hit and miss. It will be interesting to see what Adeboyejo and Moore — after a year away — do when the lights come on.