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Rebels look for answers

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Sept. 9, 2003
OXFORD Two days after an unexpected loss to Memphis, the answers were still hard to come by for Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe.
Few of the things that went right, though, came when the game was on the line for Ole Miss. After building a 34-17 lead in the third quarter, the Tigers stormed back with 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. It was the most points scored against Ole Miss in a single quarter since West Virginia scored 28 points in the second quarter of the 2000 Music City Bowl.
The Rebel defense yielded 506 yards to the Tigers, but Cutcliffe is determined not to panic in his quest for a solution.
Still, Cutcliffe did not rule out the possibility of shaking up his defensive roster.
Saturday also marked the first time since the 2000 Music City Bowl that the Rebels have scored more than 30 points in a non-overtime game and lost. Despite that, senior quarterback Eli Manning said he is not frustrated by the defense's inefficiency.
Manning had a strong performance aside from two interceptions late in the fourth quarter. His completion percentage would have been higher, but he was plagued by a problem that has hurt the Ole Miss offense in its first two games dropped passes.
The costliest of the drops was a fourth quarter miscue by Taye Biddle that cost the Rebels a sure touchdown, but it was only one of several mistakes on routine passing plays.
Whatever the reason for missed catches and missed opportunities, Cutcliffe knows the Rebels have a long way to go if they are to compete for the SEC West title.