September 9, 2006

Tiger defense dominates Rebels in win

For a brief moment late in the first half, it appeared the Missouri Tigers were about to let Ole Miss back in a game that was seemingly over just moments before. Marcus Woods fumbled a punt which the Rebels recovered at the Tiger 35-yard line. Two plays later, the Rebels had their first touchdown of the day and were within 17-7 of Missouri at halftime.

Three plays into the second half, all doubt that the Tigers would win was removed by a defense that was utterly dominant all day long.

"That's a tribute to the defense," said wide receiver Brad Ekwerekwu. "All the way from D-line back to the safeties, they played phenomenal, just lights out football. We got a defense playing like that, even if we're not playing that well, they'll keep us in the game."

Missouri's defense did more than keep the Tigers in the game. Outside of the two plays following the Woods fumble, Ole Miss took only three snaps in Missouri territory all day long. The third was a Marcus Bacon interception of Schaeffer that set up Mizzou's final touchdown.

"It felt good," said Bacon. "It felt like one of the best for sure."

The defensive effort started up front. Though Bacon stood out on the stat sheet with a team-high 11 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception, Missouri's defensive line was the key to the game. After running for 127 yards against Memphis, Green-Ellis had just 69 against the Tigers and Ole Miss averaged only 2.6 yards per carry as a team.

On the day, Schaeffer had just 94 yards of total offense. He threw for 90 yards on 13 completions and ran for just four yards on 11 carries after subtracting his sacks.

"I'm not doubting his ability, that's just with any quarterback, you get back there and knock him around, slap him to the ground a couple times, they don't want to feel that all game," Smith said. "So they're going to be like, when they see you coming, 'I've got to do something with this ball and hurry up with it.' That's when they start making bad decisions."

Schaeffer was not alone in having an off day. The Rebels totaled only 162 yards as a team. They averaged fewer than three yards per play. In all, it was a complete and total domination.

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