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Ole Miss defense looks to have strong showing against Cowboys

Ole Miss defense looks to have strong showing against Cowboys

For the second season in a row, Ole Miss will represent the Southeastern Conference in a New Year’s Six Bowl. But instead of just getting there and having fun, the Rebels are working hard to make sure last season doesn’t repeat itself.


C.J. Johnson celebrates after the Rebels defeated Mississippi State in the 2015 Egg Bow. (Photo credit: Cameron Brooks, The Daily Mississippian)

The No. 12 Rebels still remember their dismal performance against Texas Christian University that resulted in a 42-3 pounding by the Horned Frogs in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin scored three touchdowns, and the Frogs’ defense limited the Rebels to only three points in the game.

However, this is a new season and the Rebels are determined to have a better result in New Orleans.

Ole Miss (9-3, 6-2 SEC) is focused on representing the university and the conference and bringing home the school’s sixth Sugar Bowl trophy. The entire team appears confident the goal is within reach, including senior middle linebacker C.J. Johnson, who is excited about playing in another New Year’s Six bowl game.

That’s one of the main goals this year. It’s not really a matter of us getting to the game, it’s a matter of how we finish. The goal wasn’t getting to the Sugar Bowl.

Ole Miss middle linebacker C.J. Johnson

This will be the last game for Johnson and safety Trae Elston, two of the program’s best defensive players. Both of them want to make sure their last game ends with another signature win.

Elston, who led the team in interceptions (four), has heard how good Oklahoma State’s offense is, but he’s not intimidated by what has been said. He’s only focused on what he can to do to help his teammates slow down the Cowboys.

No. 16 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) had one of the most proficient passing offenses in the country this season, averaging 366.2 passing yards per game and scoring a Big 12 Conference high 28 touchdowns. Elston feels the Cowboys are similar to what he saw in TCU last season.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo,” Elston remarked on his impression of Oklahoma State’s offense. “They try to get the ball out fast and just try to get the defense to make mistakes. Really just throwing that deep ball and try to make their receivers win and score touchdowns very quick,” he added.

They’re going to make it go fast, go fast, go fast and go fast in tempo. We’ve got to just line up and just play ball.

Ole Miss safety Trae Elston

Trae Elston leads the Rebels in INTs with 4 on the season. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

Trae Elston leads the Rebels in INTs with 4 on the season. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)

The Cowboys’ passing efficiency of 155.5 ranked third in the Big 12 and it was primarily because of Oklahoma State’s sophomore quarterback Mason Randolph, who threw for 2,644 yards and 16 TD’s, while completing 60.7 percent of his passes. Randolph’s targets made it easy for him to move the football down field. Sophomore receiver James Washington and redshirt senior David Glidden were two of Randolph’s favorites, hitting them 84 times for 1,488 yards and 10 TD’s.

Elston isn’t surprised about the talent that lies in Stillwater.

“They always have some big guys,” Elston said. “They have some good, talented receivers, guys that can run. Physicality, very physical. Oklahoma State always has the Dez Bryant’s and Justin Blackmon’s. They’re always going to compete.”

Feature image credit: Cameron Brooks, The Daily Mississippian

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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