The following are player quotes after the Ole Miss Rebels throttled Mississippi State, 45-0, in front of 55,321 fans in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Friday afternoon.
Senior SS Jamarca Sanford: (On the game) When the front four plays like ours played today, and has been playing, we feel like we are going to win. It sure is easier when they are controlling everything up front like they did against State. They come to play every game, but they just dominated MSU. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. They took over the game and never let up. I did not think we would beat them this badly, but we were on fire and there was really nothing they could do to stop us. We are really comfortable in the system now - it's second nature to us. Early in the year, we struggled some, but we are in sync now. We don't have any excuses to make mistakes now. (On MSU WR Brandon McCrae breaking his leg) That's the worst thing I have ever seen on a football field. We don't know how it happened, but it was bad. We are all praying for him to recover and come back strong. This is a tough sport, but nobody wants to really hurt anyone like that. (On the defense's theme) It's no weak links. When we watch film on Sunday, nobody wants to be considered the weak link. That is what it is all about - every link being strong, and I think we have developed into that the last five games or so.
WR Mike Wallace: (On the flow of the game and the season) We wanted a big bowl. The only way to do that was to win big against our rivals. We were focused and ready to go. Of course we wish we were playing for the SEC Championship, but we let a couple of games get away from us early in the year. We righted the ship several weeks ago and have been virtually unstoppable ever since. We knew it was in there, but it took Coach (Houston) Nutt and his staff to draw it out of us. I don't want to disrespect Mississippi State, but I felt there was no doubt we would win this game. I probably didn't expect 45-0, but I expected a big win. We felt we could exploit their secondary and once we did that the run game opened up. After a while, everything was open. (On the 72-yard bomb from Jevan Snead to him) We've been so close to a long bomb all year. It finally clicked. I got behind the corner and the safety was late getting over and Jevan threw a perfect pass. I wanted to turn around and wave at the defender, but I didn't. I got a celebration flag, but I couldn't help myself. That was a lot of years of frustration coming out. (On getting a "big" bowl) I couldn't be happier. We've got a lot of positive vibes going now and I want it to keep going into the bowl game. (On beating State) It feels real good. We had heard they were talking a lot of trash, but we talked about staying humble and focused. We could not wait for Friday to get here. We did our talking on the field. Man, how good was our defense? I usually don't watch them much, but I had a great time watching them mash MSU's offense.
QB Jevan Snead: (On the game) Everyone played well. The guys up front protected me all day against a very good defensive line, the receivers made plays and the backs ran hard. We got on a roll last week against LSU and it continued through today. It felt great. (On the defense) There was a point today when I felt sorry for their quarterbacks, but in the end, I'm just glad that defensive front of ours is on my team. They are something special. I think they are the best defensive line in the country - they are all great playmakers. I'm glad I don't have to play against them, I know that. (On the 72-yard TD pass to Mike Wallace) I saw him break free and I just threw it as far as I could because I knew Mike would run it down - he's so fast. That was one of the prettier plays we have had - a great feeling. But I feel I can throw to anyone and they will make the play. (On the offense) We're coming on strong now, but I felt we would all along. We just had to rep things over and over. We knew it would come. (On the TD pass to OL/TE Bradley Sowell) Bradley made a great play because State had it covered well. He's floating right now. He is so happy. (On his progress) I have really worked hard on my decision-making and that has helped me the most. Coach (Kent) Austin has been very patient with me and encouraging and it's starting to click more and more with each game and each new experience I have. But all of that can be said for everyone on our team. We're growing every day and it feels really good. (On his shoulder) It felt fine. I rested it all week and rehabbed it and it was no problem. I took a lot of mental reps all week so I felt I'd be ready for the game mentally. It was a relief when the shoulder felt good in warmups. (On the seniors) All the younger guys played for them today. To send them out on top like this is a great feeling. They deserve it after all they have been through and they never gave up, they never threw in the towel. They are heroes to me.
DT Jerrell Powe: (On his interception and two QB sacks of a school record 11 sacks on the day) It felt good to be at the right place at the right time. There as a lot of jaw-jacking going on this week so we wanted to put on a show and shut their mouths. That's what we did and I was proud to be a little part of it. (On the defensive unit's progress) We work really hard to get ready every week and it has paid off. Coach (Tracy) Rocker works us hard, but he also encourages us and tells us to believe in ourselves. When we started doing that, it started paying off and it just snowballed from there. Right now, I wouldn't want to be on any other DL in the country. I know that's brash, but tell me a better one. (On his progress) Coach Rocker told me before the season started that he would not embarrass me. He told me he would take his time with me and get me ready before he threw me in the fire. I appreciate that because so much is expected of me and I didn't need that added pressure after what I went through just to get here. I'm going to keep working hard and losing more weight and next year I will be a much better player.
LB Ashlee Palmer: (On November) Last year at this time we were just going through the motions. We were not a team last year. Now, we are a true team. We started the season 3-4, but we never got down. Coach (Houston) Nutt would not let us get down. Then we started winning and it just took off. Our goal was to win every game in November and get ourselves into the bowl picture. Because of our team attitude, that happened and it couldn't feel any better than it does right now. Sure, we would like to have a couple of those early games back, but we had to learn and sometimes the only way you can learn is to experience some hard times. Those hard times drew us closer. In the past, hard times have driven us apart. (On when things started to click) I think after South Carolina we all got together and said 'enough.' We had nobody to blame but ourselves. These coaches put us in a position to win every game, but we were letting them down. We said that would not happen again. The coaches deserved better - we deserved better. And we made it happen. We started dominating people and it was just unreal. (On MSU) We were told all week that State thought they could pound the hell out of us, but that's our strength - run defense. They made a tactical error. Nobody wants to mess with our DL right now - they are on a rampage.
LT Michael Oher: (On the domination) I never saw it coming. I was expecting a struggle and a dogfight. That shows you how good we have gotten through the year. (On the 3-4 start) I really thought we were the better team in every game we played. We just did not prove it, and that was our fault. I was a little down, but the coaches would not let us stay that way. They knew we could be good if we would just get out of our own way. Then things started clicking and right now we do not feel like we can lose. Coach Nutt kept saying we did not know how good we were but he was going to show us. He did, and so did all the coaches. I felt it clicking against Florida, but then we lost two in a row. Even then, I could tell we were getting better and were ready to explode on someone. Then it happened.
WR Shay Hodge: (On the game) We thought we could beat them, but I'm not sure we thought we could beat them this bad. We wanted to put a lot of points on the board and that's what we did. I was worried about Jevan early in the week, but after he got on the field today, he was the same old Jevan. He had great zip on the ball. (On the team's progress) After we lost to South Carolina and Alabama back-to-back, we found a way to win against Arkansas there and I knew we were off to the races. We had finally broken down that mental barrier that had been holding us back for so long. I thought then we could win out and we did.
DE Marcus Tillman: (On the team) I think the country knows who we are now. We've been on TV a lot lately and have played well. I don't think we are an opponent folks are chomping at the bit to play. (On the DL and Peria Jerry) We've been pretty tough all year, but we are holding ourselves more accountable now. At first, we were not in perfect sync because we didn't have the system down completely, but now there are no excuses. Just ball on out and get it done. Nobody wants to be the weak link when we watch film on Sunday. Peria is our leader. He's amazing to watch. I've never seen anything like him. The way he's playing makes everyone's job easier. If he's not an All-American, it's a shame. What else do you have to do to be recognized as the best in the country? There is not a player in America anyone on this team would trade him for, and I mean that.
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