Good and Bad

OXFORD, Miss. -- The Rebels got off to a great start, 21-0 in the first six minutes against Southern Illinois, but from that point on, they were outscored 24-21 before securing a 42-24 victory.

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Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator David Lee said it best.

The 42-24 Ole Miss victory over Southern Illinois wasn't pretty and it's not how a coach would have drawn it up, but it was a win and coming out on the right side of the ledger is what this team needed.

"It wasn't beautiful, but we improved in some areas and we finished the game with a strong drive," said Lee.

Early on, it was a matinee starring Jeff Scott, who scored three quick touchdowns on a 37-yard run, a 4-yard jaunt and a 67-yard punt return, as the Rebels jumped to an electrifying 21-0 lead.

"We can do so much with Jeff. You can screen him, run him, use him on returns. He's our Darren Sproles, our Reggie Bush, our Dexter McCluster right now. I am really pleased with how he played. This is his time. I thought he made the most of his opportunity," he said.

Somewhere between the fast start and the strong finishing drive, however, the Rebs sort of lost their rhythm.

Jeff Scott
File Photo

"We had way too many penalties," explained Lee. "Some of that is youth. We struggle in practice sometimes to get some of these new guys lined up right, but some of it was just poor play.

"The other part was that I didn't think until that last drive that our offensive line fired out the way we have anticipated they will."

Quarterback Zack Stoudt, in his first start as a Rebel, was 11-18 for 118 yards and 1 score with no interceptions, but once again he fumbled at an inopprtune time, leading to an SIU score that kept the game closer than what the 58,000 announced attendance would have liked.

"We have to eliminate those disaster plays. We had a screen called at the right time - against their blitz - and he just dropped the ball. I don't know how to explain it - it just came out of his hand," Lee noted. "Other than that, he did a lot of good things. He sat in the pocket tough and took some big hits as he was delivering the ball downfield."

Randall Mackey got his first action as a Rebels and was 1-1 for 18 yards passing and rushed for 36 yards on six carries.

"Randall did fine. We called some plays he runs best and he did OK. It was good to see him get some snaps for us to evaluate," Lee allowed. "We are going to evaluate our QB situation and go from here. I don't like a two-quarterback system, but I've done it before. If that is the best way, that is what we will do. If not, we will evaluate and go with who we think is the best.

"The only way to evaluate a QB is in games. Everyone looks good in practice. Now we have some tape to go on with all three of our QBs. We are still searching to see who is going to lead this team and get us the most points. Right now, it's Zack."

Lee said the Rebels simpified this week from the opener against BYU and he's probably going to have to throw some more stuff out this week as the Rebels prepare for Vanderbilt and the SEC opener.

"We have to make it where these new guys know what they are doing better so we can eliminate some of these mistakes we are making that kill drives," said David.

The Rebels only managed 315 yards on 59 offensive plays on the day and were a sub-par 3-9 on third down conversions.

Donte Moncrief
File Photo

"We kept negating good plays with penalties and such. Those are drive killers. We have to correct those things," he noted.

Besides Scott, the positive David saw was the closing drive. The Rebels - finally - just lined up and mashed SIU.

"We finally came off the ball, guys," he said. "That is what I have been envisioning those big guys doing all year, but this is the first I have seen of that type of play. I think (OL Coach) Mike (Markuson) lit them up pretty good before that drive. It was good to see.

"I also have to say in that last drive (TB) Devin Thomas did a good job in closing out the game on that last drive. He probably does the best job of our backs in pass protection as well."

Lee reiterated the late surge of the OL, something he's needed to see.

"I have been waiting on that last drive to come around. That's encouraging. Hopefully, those guys will like that feeling of dominating and it will become a habit," he closed. "Again, I may have to simplify things, but at least we know they can fire off the ball. Now, do it every time."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix also carried the "good and bad" banner.

"We did a great job with takeaways. We had four interceptions. That's a good day's work and something we hope to continue to improve on," said Nix. "We had our moments where we looked very good but we weren't consistent enough."

On the flip side, SIU had five offensive plays over 30 yards. The big-play bug didn't hit the Rebs against BYU, but it did in week two.

"We knew they had some explosive players with big-play capability and they hit us a few times," he continued. "Last week, we had great stats and lost. This week, our defensive stats are not real good, but we won. (SIU had 420 total yards on the day.) I'll take the win every time.

"If we are going to be a good defense, we can't give those up. You look across the country and everyone seems to be making big plays - I saw a ton of them waiting on our game to start in some other games, but good defenses minimize those."

"We've got a lot to correct, there's no doubt about that, but it's always easier to correct things off of a win because the guys will have a great attitude this week."

Nix hopes the turnovers the Rebs have been able to create the past two weeks will be contagious.

"We are covering pretty well. (DE) Wayne Dorsey got things rolling with the first pick, but then our secondary picked off three more - Charles Sawyer, Damien Jackson and Marcus Temple each had one," Tyrone stated. "Turnovers seem to come in bunches. We need to keep that going."

The Rebels gave up 7-15 third down opportunities and SIU was 3-3 on fourth down.

"We were in third-and-short too often. Sometimes we didn't play with the proper leverage on our coverages. That's two weeks in a row where we have not been as efficient as we want to be on third down, so we will certainly emphasize that this week," Nix added.

Nix used some "new" faces a little more this week - DE Carlos Thompson, freshman MLB C.J. Johnson and CB Senquez Golson got some action against the Salukis. Golson actually got the start over Wesley Pendleton.

"I thought they showed up well. We are going to use them and some others more and more. We can't be afraid to put them out there and see what they can do," Nix closed. "I expect several of them to keep getting more and more time."

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