Difference Maker

Donte Moncrief proved again Thursday night at Vanderbilt he will be a playmaking difference-maker for the Ole Miss Rebels. But who didn't know that?

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But now he also finds himself in the role of mentor. Take, for example, newcomer Laquon Treadwell. The freshman had nine catches for 82 yards to lead the team in receiving – in his first collegiate contest.

Moncrief, who had drawn positive attention both on and off the field last season for his sure-handed play at his position, knew Vanderbilt would pay extra attention to him. So he talked to the younger guys, like Treadwell.

"I had told him before the game they were probably going to try to double me, so you've got to win inside," said Moncrief, who caught five passes himself for 56 yards. "They're going to play you one on one with the linebacker or a smaller corner. You're big and physical, so you've got to win tonight. He came out and he won."

So did their team. Ole Miss defeated the Commodores 39-35 in a thriller, and the junior from Raleigh said he knows other teams will follow Vandy's lead in trying not to let him be productive for his offense.

"I think they'll focus in on me a lot, double team me and all that all year," he said. "But that gets some other guys open, and that makes me feel like I've made a big catch, when I can get somebody else open with me double-teamed."

Moncrief takes the fact that defenses focus on him as a challenge and a positive and tries not to get down about it at all.

"Nah, I just keep doing what I do," he said. "That makes me feel like I'm a better player when I can do what I do to get other players open."

Wide receiver is a position of talent and depth for the Rebels, and Moncrief is among the more experienced ones on the roster at that spot.

Donte Moncrief
File Photo

Therefore he knows even an opponent like Southeast Missouri this Saturday must be prepared for with the same intensity and passion as Vanderbilt or Alabama or LSU.

"We're treating every team like they're a championship team," Moncrief said. "You can't go into any game underestimating any team these days. The smaller colleges play just like big colleges, so we have to be ready to play a big game Saturday."

Bo Wallace to Moncrief was a combination that paid big dividends for the Rebels last season when Ole Miss went bowling and finished 7-6. Already this season, even after one game, Moncrief likes what he sees out of his signal-caller.

"Bo's way better than what he was," Moncrief said. "He knows the small things, what to do and not to do. He just needs to play ball and stay healthy so we can win a lot of games."

As a go-to receiver for Wallace, Moncrief said he and his quarterback are on the same page.

"Me and Bo got a great connection," he said. "He knows when I'm open. He knows when I'm double covered. When he knows there are two people on me, he can go to somebody else like Ja-Mes, Quon, or Vince. And they can make a play."

Offensively the Rebels seemed to pick up where they left off last season in the point-production department. In their last three games of last season they scored 35, 41, and 38 points. At Vandy last week, 39.

It's all a part of the plan as the Rebels prove week in and week out they are an effective offensive machine.

"We've got a lot of confidence," Moncrief said. "The running backs are playing great. The offensive line is looking good. Bo's throwing accurately and putting the ball where it's supposed to be. That way we can make a play. Our running game is great. We've got some power backs."

The Rebels are at home Saturday for the only time in their first five games. Moncrief said they're preparing to take advantage of a limited home-game situation in the early-going.

"We're fixing all the small mistakes we made against Vanderbilt," Moncrief said of this week's work at practice. "We're just out here trying to get better and do things 100 percent.

"There's nothing like playing at home. But after this (weekend vs. SEMO), we've got to go back out there and get some Ws (on the road) to keep things going."

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