MEMPHIS – Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy, often injured in the last two years, looked like he might have picked up another serious injury in the second quarter when he went down after a block by Memphis receiver Duke Calhoun.
Hardy stayed on the ground and received medical attention from the Ole Miss staff after the play. X-rays showed no damage to his ankle, and Hardy was back on the field before halftime.
Hardy was not critical of Calhoun’s crack back block. Both are Memphis natives.
“He was playing hard, and I was playing hard. It’s football. Things happen,” he said.
Things happen to Hardy a lot. He was limited last season by a stress fracture in his foot. He was held out of spring drills and appeared ready to go this summer until a car wreck re-injured the foot and cost him practice time in August.
“At first I thought it was that toe. When I saw it wasn’t the toe or the knee I knew he’d be OK,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said.
Hardy finished with one tackle for a 5-yard loss and recovered a fourth-quarter fumble of Memphis QB Arkelon Hall that led to a touchdown.
Freshmen on the field
– There were no big surprises on which freshmen played and those who did not. Second-team linebackers D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight both played. Shackelford finished with two tackles and was on the field on a critical fourth-and-1 for Memphis in the fourth quarter.
Wide receiver Patrick Patterson got in the game, but the Rebels weren’t passing the ball much, and Patterson had no catches.
Freshman wide receiver Jesse Grandy, being groomed as a Wild Rebel candidate, carried once for a 2-yard gain, taking a handoff from Dexter McCluster when McCluster was in the Wild Rebel formation.
Kicker Andrew Ritter handled his duties like a veteran, finishing with three touchbacks and routinely kicking inside the 5.
– Quarterback Jevan Snead took the Rebels on a seven-play, 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter to answer Memphis’ second touchdown.
The drive took 2 minutes, 49 seconds off the clock and culminated with Snead passing 18 yards to Markeith Summers for a 31-14 advantage.
Memphis had just scored with 9:09 on the clock, drawing to within 10 points.
Key Number: 46
– The Rebels had three players rush for at least 46 yards, led by Brandon Bolden with 71 yards on nine carries. Dexter McCluster had 50 yards on nine attempts, and Enrique Davis had 46 yards on six carries. All three players had a touchdown.
– Ole Miss has an open date, its only one for the season.
– “We didn’t do what we had to do to win this game, and that was score on offense and not turn the ball over and help them. I really anticipated we’d be better, protect the ball better and do the things we have to do to give ourselves a chance.” – Memphis coach Tommy West
– RBBrandon Bolden, OTBradley Sowell and TEFerbia Allen were all first-time starters on offense. … Ole Miss has won 13 of its last 14 season openers. … Snead has thrown a touchdown pass in 10 straight games. … Snead finished 12-for-22 for 175 yards, two INTs, two TDs. … Bolden had a rushing TD for the fourth straight game. … McCluster posted 116 all-purpose yards. … Ole Miss has posted multiple interceptions in six straight games. … The Rebels have won seven straight games for the first time since 1990.
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal