Ole Miss still has plenty of work to do
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Oct. 7, 2003
OXFORD Just as they did a year ago, David Cutcliffe's Ole Miss Rebels shut out the Florida Gators in the second half Saturday en route to an upset win, this time a 20-17 victory in Gainesville.
The Rebels hope the similarities end there. After last year's 17-14 win at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium, the Rebels lost their next five conference games before winning the season finale against Mississippi State.
A season that began 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play ended a disappointing 3-5.
Now 2-0 again for the second straight year and only the third time since 1970, the Rebels hope to prevent another meltdown in 2003.
That focus, Cutcliffe said, is what helped the Rebels prepare for the Florida offense. After giving up 661 passing yards to Texas Tech a week earlier, Ole Miss held Florida quarterback Chris Leak to 234 yards on 14-of-27 passing the lowest passing total for any Ole Miss opponent so far this season.
Cutcliffe said his main area of concern is still the defense, but he was encouraged by the Rebels' three interceptions the most for an Ole Miss defense since last year's contest against Mississippi State.
Ole Miss was penalized 10 times for 65 yards against the Gators, marking the fourth straight game that the Rebels have been flagged at least eight times.
Senior quarterback Eli Manning said the Rebels will have to correct those mistakes and others if they are to develop some momentum.
Even so, Manning admitted he savored Saturday's win in a stadium in which his brother, Peyton, was 0-2 as quarterback at Tennessee.