You don't have to look much further than the stat sheet to see the Rebels played one of their more complete games in quite some time against UL-Monroe.
Start with the score: 59-0.
Follow with yards gained rushing: 350. Move your eyes to total defense: just 131 yards allowed.
It was the kind of day - from start to finish - that lets coordinators take an easy breath here and there and it was the day that made the Rebels - with their sixth win - bowl eligible.
Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin was pleased with a lot of areas of the offense, as he should have been.
"I was really, really pleased with the way the offensive guys prepared themselves, didn't take Monroe lightly and did the thing we needed to do - put the ball in the end zone," said Austin. "I was very proud of the effort."
The Rebels buried Monroe from the opening possession under a relentless running attack.
"We are getting a little better each week in the run game," Kent said. "It is a real credit to our offensive line and to the backs. Coach (Houston) Nutt has challenged them to run harder as the year as progressed and they have done that. We are getting better up front weekly and I was proud today how the perimeter guys blocked downfield.
"We know we have to run the football to be successful in this conference and I think we took a step forward against Monroe. The past four games we have gotten a little crisper and have executed a little better each week. We certainly understand the difference in Monroe and LSU, but it's been about us getting better, not who we are playing, and I think we have done that and will continue to do that. The guys have tasted success and they like it. That will only motivate them to do more."
Each week, Austin is asked to assess the play of Quarterback Jevan Snead. Jevan was 6-12 for 170 yards and 3 TDs against Monroe.
"He threw for three and ran for two TDs. At the end of the day, it's his job to put the ball in the end zone and to run the offense," Kent noted. "Jevan did that today. He executed what we asked him to execute and had a very solid day and a big hand in the scoring."
Austin was also pleased to see the backups get some quality playing time and to perform when they did.
"I was pleased for Billy Tapp to get an opportunity to come in the game and run the offense. He had one terrific run and led us on a short TD drive," Kent said. "Our backup backs gained positive yardage and our backup line opened some holes.
"It's important to get them playing time when you can because a lot of them are our future."
While Austin is happy to reach the bowl eligible plateau, he doesn't want to stop there.
"We are pleased to be at six wins now, but we don't want to stop there. We've got some momentum going with three wins in a row and want to keep it up," he ended. "We know what's around the corner with LSU, but I think this team has proven they can step up and accept any challenge."
Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is usually fairly stoic after games, win or lose, but he allowed himself to laugh after his defense pitched a shutout and allowed only 131 yards, despite substituting liberally in the last quarter or so of the game.
"Those stats are obviously better than we have been doing," he chuckled. "Our front got a lot of pressure on the quarterback, which made it harder on Monroe to hit anything downfield, and we controlled the line of scrimmage against the run.
"I think the guys played with more discipline than we have and played their responsibilities as well as we have all year."
Tyrone was pleased with the focus of the team in a game that Nutt called a "trap game."
"We try to go out every week and earn the respect of our opponents and the way you do that is to hit the practice field every week with a purpose," he said. "We work hard during the week on fundamentals, intensity and focus. They way you practice is the way you play.
"We stress what we are doing, not who we are playing. We are trying to get Ole Miss to the point where we are considered one of the better programs in the SEC and the way to do that is to win."
The Rebels gained their first shutout with Tyrone as the DC, but he said that was not a major goal of his.
"I told them I did not care about the shutout. I just wanted them to play to their best of their ability and to play their assignments full speed. If we happened to shut them out, great. If not, no big deal," he stated. "The goal is to be as good as you can be on every play. If the product of that is a shutout, that's a bonus.
"Winning is the number one goal, then scoring defense."
Junior DE Greg Hardy got some quality snaps and responded with a QB sack and an interception.
"It's big for us to have him back going down the stretch," Nix stated. "If he will stay healthy, he can help our defense. You saw that today. There is one thing he can do very well and that's rush the passer. He showed up real quickly when he was in the lineup."
Nix started senior Dustin Mouzon in front of Cassius Vaughn against Monroe. He explains his reasoning.
"Cassius gave up a big play against Auburn and Dustin practiced better than he did this week. Dustin also had a better game against Auburn than Cassius did," he said. "Whoever performs the best is going to play and Dustin was playing better the past week.
"We looked at the last performance and all the practice film and we saw that Dustin was playing better, so he got the start, but I was proud of Cassius for coming into the game later and getting an interception. He didn't pout about it, he went out and performed."
A lot of defensive backups were able to get some game reps in the second half and that was pleasing to Nix.
"Those are the guys who will be your future contributors and starters of your program. It's important they get some experience and get a feel for what's going on in games and game speed," he added. "They went in and ran the defense effectively, I thought. I was proud of them.
"If we do get in a bowl, then we will have 20 more practices, like another spring training, where all those guys will get a lot of reps and get more ready for next year. It's all a process and getting in games is a big part of that in our evaluation of them and in their evaluation of themselves."
Tyrone is very pleased the Rebels have reached bowl eligibility with two games remaining in the regular season.
"It's great to accomplish because that's something that hasn't been done here in a few years and was one of our major goals for this season," Tyrone closed. "Coach Nutt told the players the first team meeting that he wanted to help get them a taste of winning and a taste of going to a bowl, something none of them had ever done. It's special, but we don't want to stop there. We have two more games in the regular season and we want to get them too."
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