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Rebels to tangle with powerful Raiders' offense

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Sept. 23, 2003
OXFORD David Cutcliffe would probably use another off week to prepare for Texas Tech, if he could.
Cutcliffe, whose Rebels have not played since dismantling Louisiana-Monroe 59-14 on Sept. 13, watched on Saturday as Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons torched North Carolina State's defense for 586 passing yards in a 49-21 loss.
It was the first loss of the year for Texas Tech, now 2-1.
The Rebels, also 2-1 for the year, know from experience that it is not the first time the Red Raiders have put up big numbers on offense.
The open date may have come at a convenient time for an Ole Miss defense that has given up 300 passing yards to two of its first three opponents. The only team not to reach the 300-yard mark against the Rebels was Vanderbilt, which finished with 298 yards through the air.
The Rebels hope those improvements help them get off to faster start against Texas Tech than they did in 2002. Last year in Lubbock, Ole Miss fell behind 28-7 at halftime before a fourth quarter rally came up short.
This year's Ole Miss team has scored only seven first-quarter points. Cutcliffe hopes his team does not fall behind early as it did a year ago, but he said it must remain focused if it does.
The Rebels will try to run the ball more effectively on Saturday against the Red Raiders than they did last year in Lubbock. A year ago, Ole Miss ran for only 76 yards against the Texas Tech defense.
So far in 2003, the Rebels have struggled with the running game. The team's leading rusher is Tremaine Turner, who has 167 rushing yards through three games.
Ole Miss has scored four touchdowns on the ground this season, but three of them came against Louisiana-Monroe.