Spurlock's dream turns into nightmare

It wasn't quite the fairy tale that junior quarterback Micheal Spurlock had dreamed up for his first collegiate start. In fact, that dream turned somewhat into a nightmare when he put up an 11-31 passing performance in the 20-13 loss to Memphis last night in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

On a clear Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd at Vaught-Hemingway stadium, the Memphis Tigers ruined Spurlock's debut with a 20-13 victory over the home-standing and favored Rebels.

"Obviously, you want to go out and have a great game," Spurlock said of his first start as the Rebel signal-caller. "You've got dreams about how you want it to be and what you want it to be like, but those are just dreams, and we're living in reality.

"I'm glad the first game is over. I've dreamed about this moment for a long time, and I wanted it to be a win, and a big win at that, but it's only going to get better as time goes on."

Plagued by poor offensive execution and inconsistency, Spurlock completed 11 of 31 passes for 182 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback added only six yards on the ground on eleven carries.

The Rebels were also a woeful 3 for 15 on third-down conversions, with Spurlock shouldering most of the blame on the failed attempts.

"I was nervous and hesitant because the first game was finally here," Spurlock said. "It's good that we didn't turn the ball over, but there were some third-and-fives and third-and-sixes that I thought we should have gotten. I made some bad decisions.

"I should have been more consistent. There are going to be big plays made throughout the game, but I needed to play more consistent. The defense played a heck of a game, and we should have helped them out on offense, but we didn't. Sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles."

The Rebels had several opportunities to get on the board, but poor field position plagued them early. It wasn't until midway through the second quarter the Rebels got on the board with a 26-yard Jonathan Nichols field goal, and the Rebels didn't score a touchdown until Vashon Pearson's five-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter narrowed the gap to 20-13.

The Rebels had two opportunities to mount a game-tying drive in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but the offense just couldn't get it going.

"I tried to make some plays that probably weren't there," Spurlock said. "You have to let the game come to you. You can't go make the game, and I was tense and tried to force some things today."

As for being a threat to run the ball, Spurlock insists that in time he will learn to exploit defenses using his legs.

"As the game speeds up, you want to get the ball to your receivers so they can make the plays for you," Spurlock said. "Sometimes, I forced the ball in there and probably should have run. As time goes on, I'll get the feel for (those decisions) and get comfortable back there."

According to Spurlock and Offensive Coordinator John Latina, it wasn't the style of defense that Memphis defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn ran that confused Ole Miss' offense. It was the lack of execution, especially in the passing game, that kept Ole Miss a step behind the Tigers.

"We did a pretty good job of running the ball," Spurlock said. "Some of the passes should have been completed, but we didn't take our time and execute. As time went on, we got better at it, but we have to be more consistent in that area.

"There were many times tonight when I was inconsistent. Drives are all about being consistent and being in a rhythm. We didn't really have that tonight."

Despite suffering their first season-opening loss since 1995, the Rebels – with Spurlock at the helm – remain confident. Spurlock maintains that he gained valuable experience in his first collegiate start, and that the best is yet to come.

"We've got ten more (games) to play," Spurlock said. "That's the way you have to look at this. We've got a great team, and everyone's got their heads up. Yeah, we lost this one, but we've got ten more to play. It's not over yet.

"Monday is a new week. We'll look at the things that we can do better and go from there."

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