NEW ORLEANS — After giving up 66 points and 676 total yards to Texas, the Ole Miss defense bounced back and held Tulane to 159 yards of total offense, including just 14 yards on the ground, in a 39-0 win on Saturday.
Ole Miss also forced three turnovers and held Tulane to 2-of-16 on third-down conversions and 1-of-5 on fourth-down conversions.
“Last week, defensively, we just had a meltdown,” sophomore defensive end C.J. Johnson said. “I think to bounce back with a shutout this week is real big for us.”
Wallace banged up
Head coach Hugh Freeze said sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace injured his right shoulder early on, and it stiffened as the game went along.
“He doesn’t think it’s anything too bad, just a little sprain he’s got,” Freeze said. “We’ll get back and start therapy on him immediately.”
Ole Miss, Tulane honor Walker
Both Ole Miss and Tulane recognized Devon Walker and showed their support during Saturday’s game.
The Ole Miss players wore “DW” decals on their helmets, and the number “18,” Walker’s number, was on each Tulane helmet.
Tulane wore white jerseys and pants, and the coaching and support staffs wore the white official Devon Walker recovery T-shirts as part of a white-out to raise awareness and help sell the T-shirts.
Elston shines in retooled secondary
With this past week’s secondary shakeup, junior Charles Sawyer moved back to corner opposite senior Wesley Pendleton and freshman Trae Elston got his first career start at safety alongside sophomore Cody Prewitt.
Sawyer made a touchdown-saving tackle at the two-yard line in the second quarter, and Elston led the team with six tackles, including a sack.
“Trae’s been coming along,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. “He’s been getting better and better every week. He’s got a quick burst. He does a great job. He’s got common sense out there on the field. He understands and knows the game.”
Elston said the hardest part about adjusting to the college game is catching up to the speed of the game — reacting to plays and learning the formations. Despite the loss to Texas, he thinks the defense is ready for SEC play.
“Our confidence is very high right now,” Elston said. “I think we did ourselves in against Texas, it was mainly our alignment assignments, and if we pay attention to that, we’ll be good.”
Freeze said the Rebels struggled some at corner opposite Sawyer, where Pendleton, sophomore Cliff Coleman and freshman Anthony Standifer played in Saturday’s game.
Ole Miss completed passes to 10 different receivers, including sophomore wide receiver Collins Moore (first catch of the season) and freshman wide receiver Cody Core (first career catch).
Sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught a touchdown for the fourth straight game, the first Rebel to do so since Mike Wallace in 2008.
Three players recorded their first career interceptions. Redshirt freshman Denzel Nkemdiche intercepted a tipped pass that set up Ole Miss’ fourth touchdown of the game.
“Mine came as a gift,” Nkemdiche said. “I was just hustling to the ball, and it popped up. I was excited.”
Junior cornerback Dehendret Collins and redshirt freshman Chief Brown intercepted passes in the second half. Brown’s interception in the end zone with less than two minutes remaining preserved Ole Miss’ first shutout since 2008.
“It was a sigh of relief because the whole week we had been talking about getting a shutout,” Johnson said of Brown’s interception.
“I’m sitting there at mike linebacker and the whole defense was falling apart. We get the goal line, and Chief got the pick. It was exciting.”
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