Enter Ethan Flatt. In game three, the Rebels were victorious in a 26-23 overtime win against Vanderbilt last Saturday in Oxford.
Things weren't perfect, but they were definitely better.
"I made some mistakes, and some of that can be attributed to my first start," said Flatt, who went 21-of-32 passing for 187 yards against the Commodores. "Coach (David Cutcliffe) says the biggest improvement is between your first and second game. I'm hoping that's true for me."
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound former quarterback at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville, Tenn., said he felt he got stronger as the game went on last weekend.
"I felt a lull midway through the game, and we weren't moving it well," he said. "Once Trumaine (McBride) got that interception, that picked everybody up. We had to put it in the end zone at that point. I felt more confident after that, and I think we played really well in the fourth quarter."
The Rebel players were seen huddling together as one on the sidelines and even on the playing field two or three times during the second half of the win against Vandy. For the most part the fans and the students stayed with them too, cheering and supporting and helping the Rebels on to victory.
"All week the coaches preached unity, and that's how we are going to pull out of this hole," Flatt said. "Last Saturday fit that perfectly. Defensively, offensively, and special teams all stepped up. It was a great feeling in the locker room. There were a lot of happy people."
Looking ahead to Wyoming (1-1 on the season) this Saturday, the Rebel third-year sophomore signal-caller says he hopes more wins are ahead. But the team knows the Cowboys are eager and excited for the first SEC team ever to come to Laramie for a football game.
"One thing we learned this past weekend watching Mississippi State vs. Maine, you have to throw everything out and go play football," he said of the Bulldogs 9-7 upset to the Division I-AA Black Bears in Starkville. "Conferences and records don't matter. We have to play well to be successful again this weekend. We know that. We expect their 'A' game and their best. We have to play our best to win."
Flatt says being the starter is something he's waited on and worked toward for three years – and certainly more years before that in high school and earlier.
"I'm just thankful," he said. "It feels good. It's something I've wanted to be. When I came here I thought I'd have a shot. I didn't know when that chance would come. I'm thankful to be thrown in there. Bill Flowers talked to me about it and his experiences. He said ‘You're going to get thrown in there and you're going to have a very small window to make something. If you don't, you're coming back out.' Thankfully I was able to do a little something. I need to keep it going."
But victories are the key, and Flatt knows it's important to keep winning games.
"It was huge," Flatt said of winning last weekend to move to 1-2 on the season and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play. "But it was just one win. We learned from it and we need to build on it and get better and win. That's what we want to do Saturday at Wyoming."
The Rebels leave Oxford at 1 p.m. Friday by bus for Memphis, fly to Laramie, bus back to Cheyenne to sleep, bus back to Laramie for the game, bus to Denver after the game, fly from Denver to Memphis, then bus back to Oxford, hopefully arriving around 1 a.m. Sunday.
Ethan Flatt ready to win again
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