OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Questions about its struggling defense consumed Mississippi all week. The maligned Rebels answered some of those questions by snapping a four-game losing streak with a 24-0 win Saturday over Louisiana Tech. It was Ole Miss' first shutout since 2003, but the win over the struggling Bulldogs didn't offer coach Ed Orgeron much comfort. "We're not going to hoot and holler about all this today," Orgeron said. "We're playing in the SEC. You shut out an SEC team, a good team, and there may be a lot of hooting and hollering going on. But not until then." The Rebels (2-4) still have reason to be proud. The inexperienced defense stopped their losing streak by holding the Bulldogs (1-4) to 301 yards after spending the week working on assignments and tackling. The offense had been carrying the Rebels much of the season, but against Louisiana Tech the defense helped the team overcome three interceptions by Seth Adams and a season-low 232 total yards. Adams completed 16 of 32 passes for 167 yards and touchdowns to Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge. But his interception total was a career high. And Louisiana Tech held Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to 54 yards rushing. "It was more attention to detail," Orgeron said of the defense's improvement. "A lot of work went on this week inside the offices, and our coaches really did a good job getting our guys' attention, addressing the things that were wrong and demanding that they were fixed." Struggling quarterback Zac Champion threw for 144 yards on 16 of 27 passing, but was unable to lead the Bulldogs to a score. The closest they came were two failed field-goal attempts. Danny Horwedel missed a 42-yard attempt in the third quarter. And Ole Miss Brandon Jenkins blocked a 36-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter and Dustin Mouzon returned it 55 yards for Ole Miss final score.
In the 1st quarter, Adams hit McCluster on a deep slant for a 28-yard touchdown just 1:32 into the game. It was the first touchdown since Sept. 30, 2006, for McCluster, who missed the first four games of the year with a shoulder injury and the last six games of last season with a neck injury. After Joshua Shene put Ole Miss up 10-0 at halftime with a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter, Adams hit Hodge for a 17-yard touchdown in the third quarter for a 17-0 lead. Ole Miss junior linebacker Ashlee Palmer, who led the defense with a career-high 15 tackles, said the team's first shutout since a 31-0 win over Mississippi State on Nov. 27, 2003, was important for the units mind set. "It gives us more confidence going into the Alabama game, and I think we really needed a shutout today," Palmer said. "We really emphasized tackling. The last two weeks tackling has killed us, but I think we did a great job of that today."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)