These ain't steak and lobster, but there are some decent pot roast and potato quotes left over from the Rebels' heart-stopping 39-35 victory over Vanderbilt Thursday night.

With LG Aaron Morris down for the count, with an injury more serious than was thought because we have since learned the big junior is out for the year with a major knee issue; OG Patrick Junen still hobbled and not effective - yet; LT Emmanuel McCray had a hip issue; and nowhere to turn but to the "puppies" - Austin Golson and Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke did just that and was very pleased with the outcome and output from his true freshmen.

"I don't know how they graded yet - I'll have to look at the film, but I can tell you this without hesitation, they played their tails off," said a sweat-soaked Luke immediately postgame. "They played hard, real hard, and were not intimidated by the situation."

The Rebel offense started the game in good form, putting up 10 quick points, thanks to two short fields on their first two possessions set up by a Tony Connor interception and a shanked Vandy punt, but from that point on in the opening half, the offense stagnated.

"They (Vandy) weren't doing anything fancy, but they had a twist that was giving us trouble and their mature defensive linemen were whipping us," said Luke. "We made a couple of adjustments at half and found our rhythm on offense."

Enter Golson, Tunsil and, Justin Bell, who has not played much in his career, but started at right guard and was moved to left guard when Morris went out and Golson took over LG.

"We had three guys out there who didn't have much experience, but they battled and I'm proud of them," he noted.

Matt Luke
Josh McCoy

Luke said the second half was more how the Rebel coaches draw things up - staying ahead of schedule, utilizing the whole field and moving the chains. Also, for the most part, they finished drives and ended up scoring 29 points in the last 30 minutes.

"That's a point a minute - almost," Luke said. "We'll take that. The whole key for us is better first-down production. We were facing third-and-longs in the first half and manageable second and third downs in the second half. That changes the whole dynamic of the offense and puts the pressure back on the defense."

The Rebs gave up four sacks in the first half, none in the second half.

"Again, staying ahead of schedule took away Vandy's aggressiveness. Also, when we adjusted to what they were doing, we were more comfortable," Luke closed.

Football is can be a cruel sport, Safety Cody Prewitt, who played a very good overall game, and made the game-ending interception to seal the win, but also was directly responsible for a 4th-and-18 conversion by Vandy on a pass from Austyn Carta-Samuels to Jordan Matthews that ended up resulting in Vandy's late go-ahead TD.

"We had the right coverage, we knew what was coming, but we took bad angles. We know better, I know better," said Prewitt. "I was standing on the sidelines after they scored that TD and was really down because I knew we had put the team in this situation from poor play, but the offense had our backs, Jeff made a great run and we got another chance to stop them - we did."

The game-ending stop came with the same parties invovled. A pass from Carta-Samuels to a crossing Matthews went off the receiver's hands and, this time, Prewitt was in the proper position to make a play - the interception.

"Redemption, thankful redemption," said Prewitt.

He perked up when asked about moving forward.

"Everything we did wrong is correctable and we will get it right. You have to have a short memory to play this game. You can't blink," he closed. "We won't blink. We won't take this good fortune from tonight for granted - we will do something with it."

Before he knew the tweaking in his knee would cost him surgery and a few games on the sidelines while rehabbing, OLB Denzel Nkemdiche was happy with the results of the win over Vanderbilt, but not as pleased with how they got there.

Robert and Denzel Nkemdiche
Bruce Newman

"In the second half, until their last score, we executed. In the first half, we didn't execute. We were not playing within the framework of the gameplan. We were not competing at the point of attack the way we should," he explained. "We were all a little out of synch - first game excitement, I think, but I knew we'd adjust at half and come out of the locker room a different team."

So what did Nkemdiche learn of his team in the season opener?

"I learned something I already knew but it was reenforced tonight - we are going to fight until the very end, we are not going to give up and whoever we play is going to get 60 minutes of us," Nkemdiche noted.

Postgame, he said he felt fine. Hobbled, but fine. Apparently, it the adrenaline still pumping through his veins.

The next day, it was discovered he had a torn lateral meniscus, would have to undergo surgery (Saturday) and would have to miss an undetermined number of games.

Football can be a cruel sport, even in victory.

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