Under Pressure

Senior defensive tackle Ted Laurent is a man of few words.

Rather, he gets to the point, direct, when detailing his side of things. The Ole Miss defensive line, considered the strength of the team entering the 2010 season, hasn't been the imposing presence all expected.

Far from it, actually. And Laurent knows it, too.

"We're playing good, but we can play better," he said. "The rushing yards we're allowing is still too much. We can always be better."

Collectively, the defensive line has registered seven of Ole Miss' 13 sacks through five games. But D.T. Shackelford, originally a linebacker, has accounted for 2.5 of that total as an occasional rush defensive end.

Meanwhile, Laurent is the only defensive tackle to have recorded a sack. The rest, including highly-touted senior Jerrell Powe, are 0-for the season.

"Right now, I'm not going to say it's there, but it's coming up," Laurent said of the team's improvement, even if moving at a snail's pace, in rushing the quarterback.

"We're getting better week by week."

So far, no defensive lineman has reached double-digit tackles. Not one. Shackelford, who rotates between defensive end and linebacker, has 16 total tackles. Laurent is one tackle away from 10 for the season.

Ted Laurent

"We're not missing nothing," Laurent said. "We've got LaMark (Armour), me, Lawon (Scott) and Powe.

"We're real experienced. We're talented. We've just got to play better. We're getting better, but we've got to play better. We've got to get off blocks more, get more pass rush."

The Rebels, fresh off consecutive wins, are idle this week. Up next is a road trip to Tuscaloosa to take on top-ranked Alabama. Few, if any, teams have put up a fight against the Crimson Tide. But Laurent isn't intimidated.

He has confidence.

"They're pretty good," he said. "Their offensive line is pretty good, their wide receivers are pretty good, their backs are pretty good.

"We've just got to bring our ‘A' game. We can beat them. When we play Alabama, we've got to bring our best. Everything's got to be perfect. Can't make mistakes against those guys."

Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) currently ranks No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches' polls. The Rebels are 0-5 all-time against top-ranked foes. Alabama holds a 46-9-2 lead in the all-time series and has won six games in a row.

The Rebels (3-2, 1-1 SEC) have only one win in 24 chances against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

"No. 1 doesn't affect me, it's just I've been at Ole Miss for three years and we've never beaten them," Laurent said. "That's what motivates me. This year could be our year. We've just got to practice good. We've got two weeks to prepare for them."

But Alabama can wait. Well, at least for a few days longer.

Sure, Ole Miss began instilling its game plan Tuesday, but a much-needed bye-week couldn't have come at a better time. The Rebels, bruised and battered, need some time to recuperate, to heal.

"Get our bodies fresh; return some key players like Johnny Brown and Jeremy McGee," Laurent said of the time off. "But the main thing is to get our bodies fresh."

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