Texas Take Two

Jeff Scott remembers last year when Texas came to town. He didn't like the outcome.

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But he also says this is a new year, and last season's 66-31 setback at the hands of the Longhorns is in the rearview mirror for the Rebels of 2013.

"We're real focused," said Scott, the senior who has already made headlines this season with a 75-yard rush for a touchdown to cap a 39-35 win at Vanderbilt two weeks ago. "We came up short last year and the score was bad. We were pretty upset with the results. Now we're just focused on going over there and executing."

Last year against the Longhorns Scott was the Rebels' leading rusher with 95 yards on eight carries, one of them for a touchdown. Ole Miss put up right at 400 yards on UT in that game, but it wasn't nearly enough as the visitors racked up 676, tied for third-most in Longhorn football history.

Last week in a 40-21 loss, Texas gave up about that same number as the Cougars amassed 679 yards. Still Texas had 445 yards of its own. Scott was surprised about a lot of things in that particular game.

"I was kind of surprised when I heard (BYU) put up about 550 yards, and their quarterback had about 260-something (yards)," he said. "So I was really amazed. We really didn't do too bad running the ball last year on them. So I think we'll be successful in the running game this year."

The Rebel rushing attack ground out 170 yards on 34 carries last season in the game in Oxford. But it was defensively that the Rebels were simply not at the top of their game. There was some revelation after that game and since that it was a turning point for an Ole Miss defense that got a lot better as the season moved on.

Scott said all aspects of the Rebel program continue to be a work in progress. And while he feels they're better prepared to face a formidable foe like Texas, it's still just year two of all things new for Ole Miss football.

"We're actually still trying to work our craft and build that chemistry," he said. "This is our second season (under Coach Hugh Freeze and staff). The offense we're running, the defense, I think they've all got a better feel for it (this year). I've got 100 percent faith in our coaches and our players. We'll definitely be ready to play Saturday."

Jeff Scott
Bruce Newman

Texas, meanwhile, has some real question marks. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, so highly-touted when he left Dan Mullen's program at Mississippi State for Texas in 2010, was fired since the loss at BYU by UT head coach Mack Brown. He was replaced by former UT assistant and veteran of football wars Greg Robinson.

Scott said the Rebels' focus cannot be solely on Texas as much as it still has to be on themselves, especially given so many unknowns surrounding the coaching change on defense in Austin.

"They just lost their defensive coordinator, and we really don't know what to expect right now," he said. "But I have faith in our coaches and their game plan for us."

Texas also isn't sure yet who starts at quarterback. David Ash has been the starter, but he had an injury, and maybe two injuries, in the BYU game. Time will tell if he starts or if Case McCoy, his backup, has to go against the Rebels.

Again, more unknowns.

What is known from the Rebels' easy 31-13 win against Southeast Missouri in Oxford last Saturday is that Ole Miss got the win to move to 2-0 and also got a lot of people into the game.

"I think we did pretty good. I think we started kind of slow or sluggish or whatever. As the drives went on, we started to pick it up," Scott said.

The box score actually shows differently. The Rebels scored on their first five possessions – four touchdowns and a field goal – then didn't find the end zone again.

But being up 31-0 allowed for a lot of playing time for some, especially a host of talented newcomers as well as some able backups.

"The coaches kind of pulled the ones early in the game and let some of the younger guys get a feel for the game," Scott said. "There are a lot of freshmen. We're playing a lot of young guys. We're trying to build them up to speed. Once we get into those big games, then they'll be ready."

Scott said the Rebels breaking into the polls at No. 25 is something they're proud of and have worked toward for a long time.

"That was huge," he said. "I was still in high school the last time Ole Miss broke in. I think that's huge for us. We earned it. We worked hard for it. We're not satisfied. We're going to continue to climb the polls."

If they do that in the near term, they'll have to beat Texas. That's something that didn't nearly happen last season. But Saturday is another day.

"We're going to treat them like any other team," Scott said, knowing 100,000 fans will be in the stands, and most of them will be pulling against his team. "We're going to prepare the same way. We're just going to go in and execute our game plan.

"I know they're hurting right now," he said of the Longhorns, likely still smarting after a setback out west to the Cougars. "We've got to travel over there and play them at their home. I'm sure they're going to come with it. But we're going to come with it, too. We're excited. We can't wait."

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