More playing time in Johnson’s future|[9/27/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2006

OXFORD – After watching Wake Forest hit the corner nearly unopposed for most of Saturday’s game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron hinted it may be time to get Rory Johnson back on the field.

The visiting Demon Deacons (4-0) rushed for 240 yards in rolling to a 27-3 win over Ole Miss. At least four different Wake backs had a run over 12 yards, and almost all were off sweeps or reverses to the outside corners.

Orgeron, whose team fell to 1-3 on the season, placed the blame on the linebackers.

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&#8220We were poor at the linebacker position,” Orgeron said in his post-game press conference after the thumping applied by the Atlantic Coast Conference-based Demon Deacons.

&#8220We knew coming in that we were not very good upfront. We’re very thin there and we’re small at defensive end,” Orgeron said. &#8220But now, we’re not playing well at linebacker.”

Johnson, a former Vicksburg High product, was hailed as one of the Rebels’ top signings over the off-season. He was rated the 47th best junior college prospect in the nation by

Against Wake Forest, however, Johnson was limited to kickoff duty. He did not take a defensive snap. Quinton Taylor, a sophomore from Apoka, Fla., and Garry Pack, a junior out of Oak Grove, were the outside linebackers who flanked All-America middle linebacker Patrick Willis. The pair were consistently fooled by Wake’s use of the reverse and power sweeps.

&#8220We got beat on the edge off reverses and sweeps and that should not happen. We have to make plays there,” Orgeron said.

Johnson, who made his debut in the Missouri game, had seven tackles in that 34-7 loss in Columbia, Mo. Then he played sparingly at Kentucky, a 31-14 loss, and then saw limited duty against Wake.

Orgeron says that may change.

&#8220We know Rory Johnson can play. He’s just struggled with picking up our system,” Orgeron said. &#8220I’m just not comfortable in putting him there. But after this, we may just have to simplify things and get him in there because he can run.”

That news brought a smile to Johnson.

&#8220There is a lot of stuff I still have got to learn,” Johnson said during a quiet Rebel post-game conference. &#8220Its kind of new to me, the defensive playbook that they have here. I’ve been studying it every night. I know they’d like to get me out there because I have the speed. That speed is something I’ve always had, going back to Vicksburg High.”

Back-up quarterback Seth Adams, who played with Johnson last year at Hinds Community College, said the fact the Johnson was not here in the spring has been the biggest problem. Johnson had to pass nearly 12 hours over the summer to just to become eligible to play at Ole Miss.

&#8220Rory came in here late,” Adams said. &#8220But he competed hard in the classroom to get here. I know having watched him at Hinds what a great playmaker he is. I know what he meant to our defense at Hinds.”

Johnson says the work he’s done in the classroom at both at the Raymond and Utica campus of HCC, can help get him back on the field at Ole Miss.

&#8220I’ve spent a whole lotta hours just trying to get here. I had to pass two English classes and a couple of other things to make it to this point, and I did,” he said.