Defense Comes Through

Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt, if not the man of the hour, was certainly one of the keys to a Rebel defense that basically took care of business all night.

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Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said he liked seeing the don't break part of the Rebel defense but would prefer a little less bend to it as well.

Prewitt, who had seven tackles including five solos, had his best moment when he intercepted a Carson Meger pass in the end zone and the Rebels up only 14-0 in the second quarter.

"I was just in the right place at the right time," said a humble Prewitt. "And I came up with the pick."

Then he said more about that most significant of first-half plays.

"I played to my eyes," he said. "Coach always drills that into us every day, to just play with our eyes and do what you're supposed to do."

Prewitt was certainly doing what he was supposed to do with his eyes and his body, too. He saw the ball coming and caught it, racing out of the end to the 16-yard line, giving Ole Miss some breathing room in more ways than one.

"Our whole goal is they don't score," Prewitt said of what the defense always wants to achieve. "We have do to whatever it takes to keep them out of the end zone. I feel like we did that pretty well tonight."

Freeze said Prewitt is one of the brightest of spots on the defensive unit.

Cody Prewitt
Bruce Newman

"Cody gets us all on the right page," Freeze said. "He's invaluable to our back end there."

More Gross Again

Issac Gross played in his second collegiate game against UTEP. He is becoming a major part of a Rebel defense that continues to make plays at important times.

None were more important than a goalline stand early in the second quarter when the Rebels led just 7-0.

"We've been practicing goal line all week. We practice it every week," said the freshman from South Panola. "I'm usually not in on goal line, but we had a few changes and I was in this week. We accepted the challenges and went out there and did our responsibilities."

Gross hurt a hamstring in the season opener and it continues to nag him a bit. But he's willingly playing through it all.

"My calf's still sore, but I'm still playing," he said.

Gross said he is ready to play when called upon.

"I just came here (to Ole Miss) to play, and whatever took place it was just going to be that," he said. "I came here ready to compete and take on any challenge that was in front of me."

Freeze loves the way Gross goes about business every day.

"He just plays with a motor that's wide open," the UM head coach said. "I know he was in the backfield an awful lot. He's all business. Thrilled he can have success on the field this early."

Gross is but one of several younger players Freeze said are contributing in a big way early this season.

Donte Moncrief
Bruce Newman

"Those are building blocks for these young kids. We're playing a lot of young kids. Those are things we can point to and say ‘hey, remember when and you still overcame it.'"

Talking Texas Now

Freeze was asked about Texas. Now everybody is talking about Texas. And can. It's time.

That's next Saturday at 8:15 p.m. Prime time on ESPN. SEC vs. Big XII.

"I think it's a little early for us to say how big of a game that really is," Freeze said. "The thing that makes it big to us is recruiting. We'll be on a national stage. We'll have an opportunity in front of a lot of people playing at that time that day to showcase Ole Miss, our stadium, our fans, the atmosphere here. The Grove. Oxford. It's a great opportunity from that standpoint.

The Longhorns are 2-0 on the season with wins in Austin over Wyoming (37-17) and New Mexico (45-0).

"Are we ready to compete with them? I don't know," Freeze said. "But I know our kids and our coaches will be excited about that opportunity to do that."

Notable Ole Miss:

* The Rebels are 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and only the second time in 10 seasons. The 2009 season they won eight games and a Cotton Bowl.

* Hugh Freeze has directed Ole Miss' offense to its highest point totals through two games (77) since Billy Kinard's 1971 team scored 78 points in its first two contests. That team finished with 10 wins and a Peach Bowl victory.

* The Rebels beat a team from the state of Texas (UTEP) in Oxford for the first time since defeating SMU 23-15 in 1997. Ole Miss has two more chances to repeat that as it plays Texas in Oxford next weekend and Texas A&M on the first Saturday in October also in Oxford.

* The first two games' attendance figures have been 50,544 for the opener with Central Arkansas and 53,133 for the UTEP game. The Ole Miss-Texas game should sell out this week. Prediction? 61,000-plus.

UTEP Coach Mike Price had some postgame comments. Here are a few.

* "I think Mississippi's offense plays better than Oklahoma's offense can play. I think Oklahoma's offense is going to be great, and they are a great football team. I don't think Oklahoma's offense played particularly well against us. I don't think Ole Miss played their best. I think the mis-direction stuff they use is really good. They did a good job of catching us off guard."

* "I talk to the team every day about adversity. We did not quit. We went into halftime down 21-0, came out the second half and beat them 10-7. Not easy beating a team when you are down 21-0 to come back and beat them 10-7. They whooped us up front offensively and defensively."

* "We didn't capitalize on scoring opportunities. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. But I'm proud of this team; they did not give up. They are tough; they will eventually be winners."

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