Mouzon ready for a game, hopeful of a win

Dustin Mouzon has been around these parts for a while. He knows the importance of a fast start. He also knows that didn't help the Rebels the past two years. He believes that needs to change now.

"A win is always great no matter when it is," said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound fourth-year junior defensive back. "A win in that first game is always good, for a team's motivation, for the school, for everybody. It helps you get ready for the rest of the season."

Unfortunately for the Rebels the past couple of seasons, 10-6 and 28-25 victories over Memphis respectively to open up weren't foundation enough to springboard Ole Miss to big seasons. The Rebs finished 3-8 and 4-8 over that span.

But Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron has talked about how important a fast start is for the Rebels, especially with a difficult five-game September lineup here and now.

"It's a tough football game for us," said Orgeron of Memphis. "It's a must-win game for us. We've beaten them two years, but they've been two close games. It's our first game (of the season). We need to win it."

Mouzon agrees the game is big and says he and his teammates are ready for something other than practice.

"We're anxious to get started," he said. "We're tired of playing against each other. Practice can take its toll on you. We're ready for a game, ready for that crowd. The games are always fun."

Mouzon said the defense should be better able to help get things started off on the right foot again and hopefully keep things going through a stretch of Missouri, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia after the opener.

"Up front we're incredibly strong and talented," said the Orlando, Fla., product. "No doubt with the linemen we have up front, our turnover ratio will increase. I believe the sacks of the quarterbacks will, too. The linebackers are working hard and doing well. The secondary, we're just trying not to give up the deep balls. We're coming along well. We're trying to get these young guys into the mix, because time is winding down and they've got to step up."

Beyond that, Mouzon knows the Memphis offense will be a challenge for the Rebels' defense.

"They have a height advantage," he said. "Everybody knows they have tall receivers. That's a disadvantage for me. I just have to be on my game and react to the ball. They're going to throw it up and that will be a battle, just staying deep because they're a deep team."

Memphis will be the first of several teams with a spread offense the Rebels will face.

"It starts up front, I believe," he said of defending it. "You've got to rush the quarterback, get him out of that pocket quick, make him rush throws, get him uncomfortable and go from there. The secondary has to do their part, too."

For offenses like Memphis, Missouri, and Florida, the preparation is somewhat varied.

"The gameplan is a little different for those," Mouzon said. "Getting used to spread offenses is kinda different. Last year the majority of teams didn't spread as much. It's all about gameplanning and coming up with a defense that's going to work."

Mouzon hopes what the Rebels will throw at the Tiger offense will work for a few hours on Saturday during the game.

"We know Memphis looks at this as a big game and a rivalry, and we look at it as a rivalry, too," he said. "I'm not from around this area, but a lot of these (Ole Miss) guys are. It's bragging rights for those guys. Some of them went to high school together or just around the corner. The winner gets the bragging rights for that year."

And a jump start for the brand new season.

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