A slow start and lack of playmaking spelled doom - and then some - for the Rebels in a 52-14 loss to Tennessee Saturday. Read about it inside.

"This one got away from us quickly," said Co-Offensive Coorindator Mike Markuson about the 52-14 loss to Tennessee Saturday afternoon in Knoxville. "We were inconsistent, we turned the ball over and we were bad on third downs.

"We had some chances to make some plays early and didn't. By the time you combine all those factors, the game had snowballed away from us and turned into a rout."


A UT team that was previously winless in the SEC rolled and rolled and rolled on their way to what turned out to be an easy win.

The Rebs' offensive numbers were as bad as you might suspect - just 295 yards of total offense, five turnovers, 2-12 third down conversions.

"We just couldn't get anything going for shooting ourselves in the foot. At times, it appeared we were going to do some things, but then we'd make another poor play," he continued. "When it got away from us, we could not recover. We gave Tennessee a spark and they kept pouring it on.

"That's what happens when you dig yourself a hole in this league. They smelled blood and they went for it."

Melvin Harris

Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli, who had a concussion last week and had limited practice during the week, played his worst game as a Reb with a 7-18 passing performance with 3 picks good for only 80 yards through the air.

"Jeremiah didn't have a very good day, but we can't just look at one guy. We have a lot of guys on this team who didn't do very well," Mike noted. "We have to correct and move on. At times, we looked decent up front and we produced some holes. We rushed for about 200 yards, but we never could string anything together.

"When we were able to put some plays together, we scored easily, but we only did it twice. And we gave up two pick six interceptions. We were really bad on third down. We have to do better in several areas, but that's a key one."

Markuson felt if the game had been closer and the Rebs had been able to run the ball more instead of trying to play catch-up, things could have been different.

"It felt like we were getting good push and could run the ball, but UT adjusted by bringing their safeties down and slanting their front, so when that happens you have to be able to throw it. We were poor in the passing game," he said.

Is Markuson concerned about the team not being able to bounce back from this kind of one-sided defeat?

"We have to be grown men. We have to go to work and learn some lessons," he closed. "We always talk about finishing and our players have to take that to heart.

"It would be very easy to be quitters. It would be very easy to hang it up for the season, but that's not what men do. That's not what competitors do. That's not what Rebels do. We won't do that, I can promise that."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix was on the receiving end of the Vol snowball as well.

UT rolled up 441 yards and freshman QB Tyler Bray threw for 323 yards and three scores against a defense that just couldn't seem to make a significant play, despite several opportunities.

Tony Grimes

"We had a chance to pick off their first pass of the day - we were in position to. Instead, we bat the ball in the air, their guy catches it in stride and goes 80 yards untouched," Tyrone said, shaking his head. "From there, it seemed like it was all downhill.

"We have a potential turnover on the first play go for a TD for them. Even after that, I didn't think we panicked, but they kept getting some bounces and we kept not making plays we were in position to make."

Nix said the Rebs are not being opportunistic right now.

"We are all in this together. What one does, we all do, but we just have to start making some plays and start taking advantage when we have opportunities. We had a chance to cover two fumbles today and just didn't get it done. We put good pressure on Bray at times and he'd put the ball up for grabs and we couldn't make the plays," Nix stated. "You have to make plays when you are in position to make them and we just did not do that today at all."

Nix is not about to give up on this group.

"We have fallen in a habit of not making plays to create turnovers and not stopping the big play," he continued. "We just have to get this done in the next two games.

"We don't seem to be playing with much confidence that we are going to make those plays that are there to be made. They picked on a true freshman corner today some, but he'll learn. Sometimes it's a painful lesson, but we'll get it right with these young secondary people. It's tough when you get a quarterback putting the ball up for grabs and we're not making any of the plays and they are making all of them. We hit Bray a lot and did some things we wanted to do, but their skill guys defeated our skill guys, almost every time."

Nix admitted it better happen in a hurry.

"We gotta keep playing and we gotta keep preaching making plays. Sooner or later, we are going to get a bounce or two and gain some confidence, but we have to make it happen real quickly because there are just two games left," he closed. "I don't think our guys will quit. I think they will keep battling and competing. We just have to figure out a way to be more productive."

Back to the drawing board for the Rebs.

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