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Speedy LSU defense, injuries among challenges for Rebels

The Ole Miss football team is preparing for one of the best defenses in the country in No. 8 LSU. The Tigers rank in the top three of scoring defense, total defense, rush defense and pass defense. On the other side of the ball, the Rebels continue to deal with injuries.

 
Another week, another top-25 opponent for Ole Miss. This Saturday, the Rebels will travel to No. 8 LSU to take on one of the most relentless defenses in the country. The Tigers rank third in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (15.5 ppg), second in total defense (262.9 ppg), second in rush defense (97.2 ypg) and first in pass defense (165.7 ypg). 
 
“A typical SEC defense,” offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. “Big, strong, fast, physical, a tough crew.”
 
Werner and the Ole Miss coaching staff know they will have a tough challenge on their hands, especially with the team speed on the defensive side of the ball for LSU.
 
“You look at their front four, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that much speed with those guys coming off the edges,” Werner said. “It’s not only their first team, it’s their second team too.”
 
Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace will have his hands full with an LSU secondary that has picked off 10 passes this season, which ranks third in the SEC. 
 
“You better be accurate,” Werner said. “It’s not like a guy has a couple of feet on him and you throw it in there and throw it a little behind him. Sometimes you can get away with it. With these guys, you can’t. They’re going to intercept it.”
 
Injuries, lack of depth remain a concern on defense
 
The injury bug has been no friend to Ole Miss this season and continues to plague the Rebels this week. Ole Miss has been forced to shift guys all over because of them, and this week there appears to be no change in that.
 
“With our depth issues, I wish we had a healthy football team,” head coach Hugh Freeze said. “That’s part of it. C.J. (Johnson), Issac (Gross), (Trae) Elston, Wesley Pendleton and Woody (Woodrow Hamilton) are banged up, but they are going to try I’m sure. Whether or not they can, I’m not sure.”
 
Freeze will have a tough decision whether or not to take his injured guys on the road, considering the lack of depth with the team.
 
“Couldn’t take a chance on taking all of them,” Freeze said. “We’re already thin and go down there with the travel squad, and if all of them that you take can’t go, you certainly hurt yourself. We’ll have to make some decisions tomorrow.”
 
Shackelford feels 100 percent
 
Junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford said Wednesday that he feels great and is able to do “everything.”
 
Shackelford is rehabbing his knee from two torn ACL injuries. He tore the ACL the first time during spring drills in 2011, which caused him to redshirt and miss all of last season. During his rehab, Shackelford suffered a setback when he re-injured the knee this past spring. 
 
Shackelford said he feels like himself again and can’t wait to return and contribute to the Rebels next season.
 
“It’s a daily grind to get back to the point where I feel like I’m 100 percent,” Shackelford said. “(Strength and conditioning) coach (Paul) Jackson’s staff has done a great job of getting me back and to the point where I’m feeling 100 percent or on my way to 100 percent. I just looking forward to playing in the spring.”