The nation’s No. 1 recruit has gotten off to a good start at Ole Miss, but one thing he hasn’t done yet is swallow the quarterback in the backfield.
Sacks have not been a calling card for anyone on the Ole Miss defense. The Rebels are averaging just 1.25 sacks per game, tied for 11th in the SEC. Different factors figure in there, sometimes scheme, sometimes players missing when they’ve gotten close.
Robert Nkemdiche is tied for second on the team with four tackles for loss. The Rebels are getting tackles for loss, their 6.8 per game fourth in the SEC, so there is pressure.
Nkemdiche’s 10 tackles rank him 12th on the team. In making the start at defensive tackle instead of end against Alabama, Nkemdiche did not record a tackle but still graded out at 82 percent and drew praise from Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.
“We’ve been working Robert some inside. He played inside the other night and did a nice job. We’ll continue to look at where it’s best to put him from week to week. I wouldn’t say it’s permanent. We’ll just look at what we’re facing. I haven’t really discussed that with the defense for this week. We’ll meet tonight after everybody’s watched film all day and kind of discuss those options,” Freeze said.
While playing inside Nkemdiche’s biggest contribution right now may be commanding the attention of more than one opposing lineman and freeing up others to make plays. He’ll eventually make them himself whether at end or tackle.
Right now he’s a matchup problem that coaches can move around on the line and make it difficult for opponents to prepare.
However, the highlights that go along with defensive end play are most often a big hit on a quarterback.
Robert Nkemdiche is still waiting for his first one of those.