How do you spell 'domination?'
Ole Miss 45, Mississippi State 0.
Even the Rebel coordinators - Kent Austin and Tyrone Nix - had a hard time believing what they were seeing.
"I thought we would play real good, but. . . " Austin's voice trailed off. ". . . there's no way to anticipate that type of game.
"We had a good week of practice and watching them interact with each other yesterday, and seeing their mindset, I thought we were ready to play, but I didn't see this coming, to be honest."
Who could have? Even the Rebs came into the game on a roll and State was guaranteed a losing season win or lose in the Egg Bowl, it's still a rivalry game and anything can happen in those scenarios. History has proven that.
The Rebels entered the game very uncertain of the status of Quarterback Jevan Snead, who injured his right shoulder in the LSU game and was "limited" in practice all week.
"He was more than limited," said Austin, "he didn't throw at all. I was concerned how he would perform today until the first offensive series and then the concerns were gone.
"That was a real gutsy performance by that young man today. For him not to have thrown the ball all week and to come out and throw it like he did, that's a credit to his toughness and his preparation away from the field. I'm very proud of him. Jevan has come a long, long way since the opener against Memphis State and, frankly, I think his best football is ahead of him. We haven't seen the best Jevan Snead has to offer yet. He's a great leader and football means a lot to him. He will just get better because it's important to him. That's more than half the battle."
The Rebels have been on a roll for several weeks, but against the Bulldogs it picked up even more steam.
"It sounds like a cliche' but it all starts up front. Our protection up front was very, very good. We ran some different protection packages today, testing the water to see what kind of reaction we would get from our guys and their defense, and our guys just handled everything up front beautifully," Austin continued. "They deserve a lot of credit.
"Then everything else kind of fell in place. The backs ran hard, Jevan played well and the receivers got open and caught the ball."
Kent said the journey to 8-4 has been sweet, especially finishing undefeated in November.
"It's always about the journey, the process of getting there, that you remember," Kent stated. "When you understand everything everyone on this team went through to get to this point, it goes beyond wins and losses - it has a deeper meaning. It's more rewarding."
When the Rebels were sitting on a 3-4 record, did Austin see this type of ending coming?
"There were glimpses, for sure, but we hadn't really put together a complete game in all three phases as a team," Kent assessed. "The special teams have been outstanding all year, but we had our ups and downs to the midway point in other areas.
"Then we started having a little success as guys matured and got more experience. Jevan is a prime example of that. And we have many more examples of that. Some people don't understand what it means to experience the game on this level and learn that way. We learned to handle pressure and all kinds of situations and that's the biggest difference in us now and us at the start of the season. With experience came belief and playing as a team. It's been fun to watch and be a part of."
Austin was quick to point out the effect the Rebel defense had on the offense as well.
"When the defense plays like it did today, it's a lot easier to play offense. They were lights out all day and that made our jobs easier. My hat is off to Coach (Tyrone) Nix and his staff. What a job," Kent ended.
What superlatives would be appropriate for the Rebel defense? We're not sure, but none would be too glowing.
Nix and company were - searching here - stupendous.
"The kids on the defensive side of the ball knew what to do and played fast," Nix stated. "That's the results you are going to get when you get that combination."
Tyrone did not see that type of game coming.
"I thought their offensive line was good and physical and I thought they had been a very good rushing team," he noted. "What happened today was that our playmakers showed up with something to prove in their minds and they made plays.
"Peria Jerry, Greg Hardy, Kentrell Lockett, and on and on, came to play and did what we expect them to do every week. It all came together this week better than it had in the past. We've been playing some very good defense for several weeks, but this was a different level - the level we've been searching for all year."
According to Nix, the Rebel offense set the tone of the game and his guys followed suit.
"We were concerned about (MSU TB) Anthony Dixon coming into the game, but once we got up a couple of touchdowns, State had to change their attack and we were able to take Dixon out of the game," Nix stated. "It makes our job easier when we are a few scores ahead and we know they have to throw. We can really get after the quarterback more."
And get after the MSU quarterbacks - all three of them used - the Rebels did, to the tune of 11 sacks for -97 yards.
"I don't keep up with stats very much, but I know we were getting after their quarterbacks hard," he continued. "What matters is winning and the way to win is to get your kids to accept coaching and to buy into the leadership of the head coach. These kids have done that and for that I am proud.
"It's great to get a lot of sacks and all that, but what is more rewarding is to get a unit to play together and to the best of their ability and we have started doing that."
The results of this regular season should, in Nix's estimation, get the word out the Rebels are real.
"We are going to make some noise in recruiting and I think it's clear we can battle with the big boys," Nix declared. "We can win a lot of games here if we get the right players who buy into what we are teaching and will take coaching like this team has."
The Rebel 'D' boss usually holds off on a lot of individual compliments, but now that the regular season is over, he could not help but gush about senior DT Peria Jerry some.
"He's the best inside player I have ever been around. Peria dominates. He's the best combination defensive player - against the run and the pass - as I have ever had. Adalius Thomas is the best outside guy I have had, but Peria is the best inside guy," Tyrone stated. "The thing about him is that he comes to work every day, no exceptions.
"Peria Jerry is the real deal. He deserves to be All-SEC, All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, in my mind."
Nix, like Austin, has enjoyed the journey and the process of the 2008 Rebels.
"When I look back on where these kids were in spring and how far they have come, it's pretty amazing," he closed. "They were hungry to win, but just did not know how to, but they were willing to do what we asked them to do. They did not let the setbacks stop them from their goals and they enjoyed every step of the journey.
"Kids like the ones we have here are what makes coaching rewarding."
Oh, this piece was supposed to be about the Egg Bowl game?
Not much to say.
We already know how to spell domination.
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