For a while, it looked like the Ole Miss Rebels would blow Vanderbilt off the map in their 23-7 victory in Nashville Saturday night.
It didn't turn out that way, but it was still a solid victory and got the Top 20 Rebs back on the win path.
"We started the game off very well and did some good things in the Red Zone," said Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, whose unit held the Commodores to 240 total yards in the outing. "Our linebackers made a lot of plays tonight - Patrick Trahan had 10 tackles and seemed to be very active, along with the rest of them. Jonathan Cornell, Allen Walker. We were playing without D.T. Shackelford, but we had a nice five-man rotation going there that worked well."
The Rebels were nothing short of dominant in the opening half, allowing only 88 yards and no points to the Dores.
"We got several three-and-outs in the first half and were able to rest and give the offense the ball," noted Nix. "In the second half, we gave up a couple of big plays, but we still held strong in the Red Zone except for the one score we gave up. I was pleased."
The Rebs have started to establish a pattern of being very stingy in the Red Zone. There is a give and take to that, Nix said.
"I would like to not be in the Red Zone as much, but if the opposing offense is going to get down in there, that's the most important part of the field to defend," he continued. "If we can force field goals or not give up anything, then we are going to win a lot of ball games. We have been fortunate to have not given up many touchdowns thus far and that's a good sign.
"Again, though, I'd like to see us get a little stingier on the other end of the field."
Nix has been pleased with the play of the defensive line and the development of DT Jerrell Powe.
"We seem to be getting a good push up front and Jerrell has really improved," Nix added. "We are able to roll two units in there and keep them pretty fresh and they are performing well.
"We are also starting to develop some depth in the secondary. Guys like Marcus Temple, who had a real good interception in the end zone and a good return on it, protecting the ball and giving us good field position, have done some good things. They played a lot last year and we trust them to go in there and do the job. They did tonight."
Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin saw his side of the ball develop some rhythm and consistency that was needed.
"Other than two bad throws, we had a pretty good night," Austin noted. "Our guys showed up and played very well. It's nice to see us perform more consistently, of course.
"I just want those two throws back. Other than that, like I said, we played a very good football game against a very good defense. We knew they would play us tough in this stadium and they did, but we were able to make more plays than we did last week."
It helped the Rebel offensive cause that they were able to convert 10-18 third-down opportunities, as opposed to 1-13 last week in the loss to South Carolina.
"Jevan (Snead) made some real good throws on third down. He was very sharp for most of the game. He also made a couple of big runs for us," Austin said. "When you are converting over 50% of your third downs, you've got a chance. We were also 4-4 in the Red Zone, which is a good day's work."
All that is left for the offense to do is to eliminate a few mistakes and continue gaining momentum and consistency.
"We eliminated a lot of mistakes from the last game tonight, but we have a few more to patch up," Austin closed. "That's our goal now - to keep eliminating those few mistakes, but I am very pleased with how we played tonight but for a couple of plays."
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