By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ORLEANS – The first college start for Trae Elston wasn’t necessarily a by-product of the Ole Miss secondary getting torched against Texas.
Elston, the true freshman, might have made debuted as a collegiate regular against the Longhorns rather than before a sub-30,000 crowd in the Superdome had he not been suspended for what SEC staff called a flagrant hit against Texas-El Paso.
“He was getting ready to start before we had the incident against UTEP,” Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. “He’s been getting better and better every week.”
Elston finally got the call on Saturday. He was all over the field in the first half, and the six tackles with which he finished would almost certainly have been a higher figure had there not been so much player substitution when the game was out of hand in the second half.
“I think I did pretty well. The last three games have been a little rough, but I think I did pretty good,” Elston said.
It was a pretty good day for the defense overall. Not surprisingly, the Rebels were able to get to Tulane quarterback Devin Powell, also a true freshman making his first college start, much easier than they were able to get to Texas quarterback David Ash.
Ole Miss finished with three sacks, one each by Elston, Aaron Garbutt and Jason Jones, bringing its season total to 12, just one sack below the total for all of 2011.
The biggest challenge for Elston, as with many new college athletes, has been adjusting to the speed of the game.
“It’s reacting to plays, getting formations and all that. You have to think very quickly,” he said.
Clearly, he’s making progress. In fact, it’s speed that first comes to mind when Wommack talks about his young player.
“He’s got a quick burst and does a great job. He’s got common sense out there on the field. He understands the game, listens and tries to fix everything.”