Ole Miss received some bad news coming out of its thrilling 39-35 win over Vanderbilt in Thursday's season opener.
Junior offensive guard Aaron Morris is out for the season after tearing his ACL, and sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche will miss four to six weeks after tearing meniscus. Nkemdiche is scheduled to undergo surgery Saturday.
The Rebels were already banged up entering the opener, and one of the keys last season to their getting to seven wins was staying healthy.
Junior Keith Lewis will step in at linebacker for Nkemdiche, who led Ole Miss in total tackles, tackles for loss and forced fumbles last season. The Rebels will also get back junior linebacker Serderius Bryant next week against Southeast Missouri.
Morris, who started at left guard against Vanderbilt, was the Rebels' most experienced offensive lineman, but he reported to preseason camp overweight after missing the spring with a shoulder injury. Morris still has a redshirt year available.
With Morris out, that means you could see even more of talented true freshmen Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson, depending on the way the Rebels shuffle things. Both played a lot Thursday night, as Ole Miss offensive line coach Matt Luke was rotating guys as much as possible up front. It was extremely hot, and the Rebels operate at a blistering pace offensively.
Luke said he was going to play his best five offensive linemen, and it's hard to imagine that both Tunsil and Golson won't be in that five at some point this season. They both looked impressive in the opener. The Rebels, after giving up four sacks in the first half, didn't give up any in the second half. They had 185 of their 206 rushing yards after halftime and also did a better job of staying out of third-and-long. For a big chunk of that second half, Tunsil and Golson were both on the field, too.