NOTES: Redemption Game
On the second play for Vanderbilt on offense after the second half kickoff, Cliff Coleman intercepted a Stephen Rivers pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
With Andrew Fletcher’s point after, the Rebels led 27-0. This one would only get worse for Nashville’s hometown team and ultimately wind up a 41-3 final.
The pick six for Coleman, a fifth-year senior, was also the first for a Rebel defender since Charles Sawyer picked one off and ran it back for a touchdown against BYU to open the 2011 season, a 14-13 loss to the Cougars.
Coleman said the defense is as solid as its shown so far, in his opinion, allowing an average of eight points a contest through two games.
“Overall the defense is executing,” he said. “Everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. Everybody knows their assignments. And everybody’s just coming together and playing as one.”
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said Coleman has grown in so many ways.
“I could not be more pleased with the turn-around he’s made in his life – academically (and) socially,” Freeze said. “To see him now succeed on the field is very rewarding to a coach.”
Cody Core continued his impressive season through two games. The Rebel junior wide receiver caught four passes for 85 yards and one touchdown against the Commodores.
Core was one of eight Rebels to catch passes in the contest – joining Evan Engram (7), Vince Sanders (5), Quincy Adeboyejo (5), Laquon Treadwell (4), Quintavius Burdette (1), Jordan Wilkins (1), and I’Tavius Mathers (1).
Core’s touchdown was the only score in the game for the Rebels by air.
Andrew Fletcher was two for two in the field goal department Saturday afternoon. Against Boise State the Rebels’ senior placekicker did not attempt a field goal.
In the Vanderbilt contest, the Nashville product from Montgomery Bell Academy was good on kicks from 31 yards and 25 yards, both in the first half, which helped give Ole Miss a 20-0 lead at intermission. He is now 10-for-10 on extra points this season.
“I didn’t really know if I was going to kick this year with it being my fifth year,” said Fletcher, mentioning he had been to games in the Titans' home stadium before. “It’s awesome to come home and kick my first field goals in front of everyone I know. I’m glad I could get the team some points.”
Fletcher said the battle to kick through spring and into fall camp helped him improve.
“It’s almost easier out there (in games) than it is in practice,” he said. “With Coach (Hugh) Freeze and Coach (Tom) Allen yelling at you and the other kickers out there, it definitely played a role in helping me prepare mentally.”
Vandy 'O' No Go
Last week in a 37-7 loss at its on-campus stadium to Temple, the Commodores played three quarterbacks and had seven turnovers in the lop-sided loss.
Against Ole Miss, senior graduate transfer from LSU Stephen Rivers, younger brother of former North Carolina State and current San Diego Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers, started and played every offensive snap.
“It meant a lot to get to play the whole game,” said Rivers, who was 6 of 25 with one interception.
“I really appreciate the coaches putting me in there and sticking with me,” he continued. “This was my first start, and I made some rookie mistakes. I’ll be sharper and learn from everything.”
Rivers said the Rebel defense made it tough on Vanderbilt’s offense all day. The Commodores only amassed 167 yards of total offense, including 107 on the ground and 60 through the air. Vandy had just nine first downs.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Rivers said. “(The Ole Miss defense) definitely brought some good pressure and got us out of our rhythm pretty consistently. It was hard for us to get a rhythm going.”
Spreading The Wealth
Nine Rebels rushed the football, including four from the quarterback position.
Jaylen Walton led all rushers for the Rebels with 35 net yards on eight carries with one touchdown. Running back Eugene Brazley had six carries for 34 yards, Jordan Wilkins five for 27, Mark Dodson seven for 20, and I’Tavius Mathers six for 20 and a touchdown.
Among those who played quarterback, Ryan Buchanan rushed for 18 yards on two carries, Devante Kincade five for 16 and a touchdown, Jeremy Liggins four for nine, and Bo Wallace seven for one net yard.
Buchanan, the redshirt freshman, got in on his first action as a college football player. Through the air he was 4 of 7 for 38 yards with a long pass of 13 yards.
Kincade, who did get in on one play against BSU last week, was 1 of 1 against Vandy for nine yards.
Liggins played in the Boise State game. But Saturday at quarterback, he didn’t attempt a pass.
Also offensive lineman Rod Taylor saw the first action of his collegiate career in the first half.
A Better Bo
Wallace has been the Rebels starting quarterback for two seasons and two games. In that time he has played three games in Nashville and the Rebels have won all three – beating Vanderbilt last season 39-35, winning the Music City Bowl 25-17 over Georgia Tech, and Saturday’s win against the Commodores by a 41-3 margin.
“I love playing here. It’s fun for me to come up here and play,” said Wallace, from Pulaski, Tenn, and a product of Giles County High School. “Obviously more people I know get to see me play in person, but I don’t think there’s any more pressure.”
Wallace was better in game two than game one. In the opener, he threw three interceptions. Against Vanderbilt, he had none.
“I knew I couldn’t force the ball,” he said. “That was the big thing for me. I think I did a good job not doing that today. I feel good about how I played.”
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