The Ole Miss defense looked like a new body of work Saturday against Vanderbilt, and Marquis Haynes was an integral part of the combined effort that held the Vanderbilt offense to 14 second-half points (including a late, garbage-time touchdown).
The Rebel defense racked up seven sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception as it held the Commodore offense scoreless in the first and third quarters, a huge improvement on the lackluster blowouts Alabama and Auburn provided in weeks prior.
Defensive line coach Freddie Roach has continued to preach consistency to his players and gave this weekend as an example of how that consistency pays off.
“You have got to be consistent, and that’s the hardest thing to do in life,” Roach said. “I guarantee you you brush your teeth a different way every morning, don’t you?”
Roach also mentioned how this weekend was an opportunity for the players to see how well they can play. Vanderbilt struggled to move the ball during its first few series, and even when it was able to, big plays by veterans like DeMarquis Gates and Marquis Haynes kept the Commodores’ offense in check.
“I think it’s time for them to start reaping the benefits of the work they’ve done,” Roach said. “It’s good to see the guys have fun.”
Senior defensive lineman Marquis Haynes played a significant role in this weekend’s performance. His three solo sacks gave the Rebels a massive boost in momentum, and his talent was on full display as he blew past blockers with a looser, unimpeded mindset.
“He’s a kid who can run, who can rush, and we kind of simplified it for him and let him go play football,” Roach said.
Haynes agreed the new game plan was extremely helpful to his on-field play.
“Just going freely. Just go. Just be the Marquis that everybody knows I can be,” Haynes said.
Haynes also broke the Ole Miss career sack record with Saturday’s performance. He notched the 27th sack of his career, breaking former All-American Greg Hardy’s record of 26.5. The talented Haynes credited God, his coaches and his family.
“I got my little daughter who always watches me play, and you know, I always try to go out there and do my best for her,” Haynes said. “I never thought this day would come when I’d break the sack record. … (My dad) always told me, ‘You’re the only one out there with our name on the back, so you have to go out there and finish the job.’”
That defensive mindset carried over to the offensive side of the ball, where, once again, renewed effort and consistency were the keys to the victory. Sophomore offensive lineman Greg Little gave credit to the defensive scout team for sharpening up the offensive side of the ball.
“They were pushing us harder than they usually do,” Little said. “We did a little extra last week, but it definitely paid off on Saturday. … I think Vanderbilt was more of a statement of what we can do and for what’s more to come.”