Rebels 'D' makes big statement

With the exception of a few plays here and there, the first half of Ole Miss' season opener was pretty boring.

And that's just fine with Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix.

His defense, which gave up points and yardage by the mile last season, flexed the kind of muscle in the first half against BYU that you're accustomed to seeing from Nix's defenses.

The Rebels, who lead 3-0 at the half, held BYU quarterback Jake Heaps to 74 passing yards on 10-of-21 attempts. BYU managed just 102 total yards.

So far, it's a far cry from what happened to the Ole Miss defense in the opener last season. The Rebels were shredded in a shocking upset loss to Jacksonville State, which effectively ended their season just as it was beginning.

The Rebels' pride was bruised by what happened last season, in particular the defense.

Anybody who really knows Nix knew he would have this group ready to play this season, and it's certainly been an impressive start.

Offensively, the Rebels can thank speedy running back Jeff Scott for being ahead. He fielded a punt inside his 5 and took it back 44 yards. He followed that up with a 16-yard catch and run on a screen pass to help set up Bryson Rose's 20-yard field goal.

The Rebels are going to need more offense in the second half to win this one, but it looks like they're a lot more capable of grinding out games than they ever were a year ago.