Ole Miss linebackers will be starting anew under Bradley Dale Peveto.
The new Rebels linebackers coach told the Oxford Eagle on Friday that the group will have a “clean slate” under his watch because of the coaching change.
“We have two seniors, and they’re both getting their shot right now,” Peveto said. “With DeMarquis (Gates) out, we started Ray Ray (Smith) for the first two practices. He and DeMarquis shared the (first-team) reps (Tuesday). He’s getting his shot.”
Last season, Ole Miss finished 120th in run defense (246.33 yards per game), as well as 111th in total defense (461.3 yards per game) and 100th in scoring defense (34.0 points per game) with linebacking corps seen as a big reason for the unit’s struggles.
Outside of Gates, who finished with 79 tackles, no other linebacker had more than 44 tackles last season.
Detric Bing-Dukes, Tayler Polk and Willie Hibbler join Gates and Smith as returning linebackers; the Rebels also signed four linebackers in their 2017 recruiting class, including three-star junior college prospect Brenden Williams who already has enrolled.
“You take steps,” Peveto said. “It’s accumulative learning. It’s accumulative reps. It takes time. I told them that I’m not a magician and they’re not either. It comes with hard work, consistency and repetition. If we just keep doing the right things, we’ll be a good linebacker group.”
Peveto, who had been a longtime assistant at LSU before his dismissal by new Tigers coach Ed Orgeron after last season, also will serve as special teams coordinator for the Rebels.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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