Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has built his reputation on offense, but his calling card through one quarter of the 2022 season has been on the defensive side of the ball.
Kiffin and the No. 16 Rebels will encounter hot-handed quarterback Davis Brin when they host Tulsa on Saturday at Oxford, Miss.
Through three games, the Rebels (3-0) have outscored their competition — Troy, Central Arkansas and Georgia Tech — 129-13.
Included in those lopsided numbers was Saturday’s 42-0 blanking of an ACC program in Georgia Tech – a mauling that saw the visitors run roughshod for six touchdowns out of their up-tempo offense.
But the defense stood out just as equally as the rushing game, which produced 316 yards on 62 carries (5.1 per rush).
Those points allowed the Rebels to fly around on defense, as they had the previous two games.
They shut down dual-threat quarterback Jeff Sims and the Georgia Tech offense, which produced only 214 yards, including just 53 rushing yards on 34 carries.
That sparked the Rebels to their first road shutout since 2012 and first blanking of a Power Five school since a 45-0 victory over Mississippi State in 2008.
The impressive start has Ole Miss ranked eighth nationally in yards allowed per play (3.64).
With the SEC opener at home next week against No. 8 Kentucky, Kiffin said his squad can’t afford to get caught looking past Tulsa.
“I’m not worried about that,” Kiffin said Monday. “We’re not there. We’re playing Tulsa and worried about this week. You need to be (facing the) No. 1 pass offense in the country by far. It’s not even close.”
The Golden Hurricane (2-1) and their high-flying offense will be unique for Ole Miss.
Brin, who tops the FBS with 1,206 yards through the air, has helped Tulsa average 43 points per game and 413 yards passing. He has completed 76 of 119 passes for 11 touchdowns and one interception.
Last week in a 54-17 win over Jacksonville State, he collected his second 400-yard passing game, including 373 of his 424 yards in the first half.
“I was really excited about the rhythm that we found, especially early on,” Brin said. “And that just comes with taking what the defense gives me, and those deep shots will come and they did, so I’m just real proud of the way we executed.”
Brin’s top targets are Keylon Stokes and JuanCarlos Santana, who have combined for 42 receptions, 783 yards and seven TDs.
Stokes has 28 catches for 457 yards (third in FBS) and three scores. Santana has 14 receptions for 326 yards and four TDs (tied for ninth in FBS).
Tulsa was won two straight after dropping its season opener against Wyoming, 40-37 in double overtime.
Tulsa leads the all-time series 3-0. The Golden Hurricane won 26-0 in 1932, 47-0 in 1944 and 14-7 in the 1964 Bluebonnet Bowl.
–Field Level Media
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