Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix said he wants to be "perfect," and the Rebel defense did not reach that standard.
But they were good enough to hold Auburn to 7 points and good enough for him to get one of two game balls handed out by Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt postgame.
"We can play the pass a lot better still, and we can do better on third downs," said Nix, "but we also made some plays. We had some key interceptions deep in our territory and we did some good things.
"We are also fairly dominant against the run. I like that. I think Auburn only had 75 yards rushing on 25 carries. I think since the first game we have done a pretty good job against the run. That's a good day's work on that end of it, but we gave up 319 yards passing. We have to shore some of that up."
Everything starts up front and right now the two "hot" players on the DL are DT Peria Jerry and DE Kentrell Lockett, who had seven tackles and was in Auburn QB Kodi Burns' face all day.
"Kentrell is a young guy who hasn't played much before this year. We expect him to get better and better every game and he has done that," Tyrone noted. "Nobody expected him to be a starter - most expected Greg Hardy to take that position, but Kentrell has done a very good job there and continues to work hard to keep his job."
Nix was happy with the defensive play except one series - when the Tigers scored their only points coming out of intermission.
"We didn't seem to have as much energy during that drive. They connected on a long pass and then (MLB) Jonathan Cornell called the wrong front and they popped a TD run on us," he explained. "We didn't respond real well after the long pass was reviewed and not overturned. You have to get ready to play the next play and get your head back in the game."
Nix's biggest goal since game one has been for his troops to improve weekly. What's his assessment overall through nine games?
"If you measure everything by points, we are getting better weekly. If you measure by yards given up, we have work to do. We are doing good against the run but our pass defense has to improve," he noted. "We did have three interceptions today, so that was big, but I want my kids to be perfect. That's our goal to strive for perfection, but at the end of the day if we look up there and Ole Miss has more points than our opponent, we're happy."
The last time Nix got a game ball? Last year when he was the DC at South Carolina and the Gamecocks shut down Kentucky.
If the Rebel defense keeps improving, there may be more of those for the trophy case.
Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin's side of the ball was not as effective as he would like, but they made enough plays when they needed to in order to win an "ugly" game.
The Rebels ran for 233 yards and the way the passing game was going - spotty at best, the ground attack was a blessing.
"Auburn was doing a really good job defending the pass," Austin noted. "The running game had to come through for us today and it did. I'm real proud of them. I was proud of the way we blocked up front, our backs ran really hard and we protected the football, which was a key."
QB Jevan Snead did not have his best game of his still-young career, but Austin gave a lot of credit to Auburn's defense.
"At times, Jevan was off and out of sync, but I thought he corrected some things during the course of the game and led us on a couple of pretty good drives," Austin continued. "He kept his poise. The drive before the half with not much clock was beautiful and the last scoring drive - which we needed to get momentum back - was how we draw it up. He was streaky today, but he made the plays we had to have when we had to have them. When the score was 10-7, we had to have a drive and I was proud we were able to get it to take some pressure off the defense.
"Auburn is a tremendous defense. They have an excellent front, they run and tackle well and their coverage is good. They have been a great defense for a long time and I'm happy we got what we did, all things considered. We called a game that allowed us to win against a very good defense and our defense was tremendous in holding them to 7 points."
Austin has had a heart-breaking week. His Mother, Gloria Austin, 74, passed away at his home Monday.
"My Mother and I were very, very close, as was the rest of my family to her," he said. "It's not easy to lose your Mom, but I also had a responsibility to my second family, this team. I'm not sure how well I handled it, but we got through it.
"Getting a game ball means a lot to me and my family. It was very gracious of Houston to think of us. It just shows you the quality of human being he is to be thinking of us that way. My Mom was a huge football fan - the biggest football fan in my family and I'm sure this means a lot to her."
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