OXFORD – Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said he isn’t holding back with defensive end Kentrell Lockett, even though his senior captain was not on the field for some crucial plays.
Lockett missed the week leading up to the season opener against Jacksonville State with an irregular heartbeat.
When Lockett wasn’t in the game, sophomore Gerald Rivers was in his place.
“We play that way in every game. We feel like we can keep our guys fresh, and we’ve done that since we’ve been here. Every four or five plays we rotate and put a different group in,” Nix said.
Lockett finished with three tackles and two quarterback pressures.
“To be honest, I thought I played more this week, then I did last week,” he said. “By practicing I got a lot more conditioning and more plays. I’m fine. I just have to get a little more conditioning and I’ll be good.”
Improvement on defense
• Vanderbilt rushed for 227 yards on 41 attempts, an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. The Commodores got 115 of those yards on two carries – both touchdowns – a 35-yard jaunt by Zac Stacy in the second quarter and an 80-yard burst by Warren Norman after Ole Miss had tied the game in the third.
“Looking back there are two plays I wish we could take back. Other than that I felt like we really improved, thought I know we’re not where we need to be. We will have to continue to get better,” Nix said.
The Rebels had eight tackles-for-loss, a season high, but did not force a turnover for the second time in three games. They have not intercepted a pass and have forced only two turnovers this year. Ole Miss had one sack and four pressures against a Vanderbilt team that doesn’t pass very much.
Big day for Cornell
• Linebacker Jonathan Cornell had 11 tackles and three sacks last week and turned in another solid game with a team-high nine tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Linebackers Allen Walker and D.T. Shackelford had seven and six tackles respectively. Shackelford played at defensive end in pass-rushing situations. He had the team’s only sack and had 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
• After both offenses had stumbled about, Vanderbilt moved 96 yards in 13 plays, in the second quarter. Tailback Zac Stacy broke through the left side and ran through a couple of would-be tacklers on a 35-yard scoring play. The Commodores had success working the sideline passing routes on the drive.
Key number: 3
• The Rebels had three turnovers, two interceptions thrown by Jeremiah Masoli and one fumble by Korvic Neat. They are now minus-5 for the season in turnover margin.
• “I haven’t slept well lately because of pure excitement. The adrenaline is going. I’m thankful to Vanderbilt for giving me the opportunity to do this, and I just want to do right by these young people.” – Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell
• It’s the second of three-straight home games for the Rebels. Kickoff against Fresno State, of the Western Athletic Conference, is 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by CSS. Fresno State was 1-0 going into Saturday’s home game against Utah State.
• Masoli is the first quarterback since Archie Manning to record at least 100 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game. … Kicker Bryson Rose had been perfect in four field-goal attempts but had his first miss of the year, a 32-yard attempt. … Eleven different Ole Miss receivers caught a pass. … Punter Tyler Campbell had a career-high seven punts with a 44.6-yard average. … The Rebels are 0-2 at home for the second time in four years. … Ole Miss lost its first SEC game for the seventh straight season.
… The Rebels are 30-44-3 in SEC openers, 16-17 in Oxford … Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss in the SEC opener here two years ago. … Walk-on offensive lineman Patrick Junen was among players getting game action for the first time.
PARRISH ALFORD / NEMS Daily Journal