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Rebs not expecting letdown

By By Joey Vaughn / special to The Star
Oct. 8, 2002
OXFORD One of the first questions that usually jumps to mind after a huge win deals with the big letdown, especially with a nonconference game up next on the schedule.
That's one of the concerns at Ole Miss, where the Rebels must prepare for Arkansas State after their 17-14 win over then-No. 6 Florida, a triumph that landed them in the top 25 for the first time since 2000.
David Cutcliffe took a little extra precaution this week to guard against the letdown.
Helpful in Cutcliffe's efforts are the facts that the Rebels didn't play offense very well against the Gators and that Arkansas State ran the ball at will on Ole Miss last year, piling up 241 rushing yards. Cutcliffe expects his team to take the Indians seriously, especially with those two allies on his side.
Running woes
A big part of Ole Miss' subpar offensive output was due to lack of production in the running game. The Rebels rushed 33 times against the Gators, but gained only 37 net yards.
Senior tailback Robert Williams, who started Ole Miss' first four games, didn't play against Florida after suffering an ankle sprain against Vanderbilt. Redshirt freshman Vashon Pearson led the Rebs with 47 yards on 19 carries. Eli Manning was sacked three times for minus 36 yards.
Injury update
The Rebs avoided major injuries against the Gators, but several players may miss practice time this week. Williams is still limited, according to Cutcliffe, along with freshman defensive end Chris Herring and redshirt freshman tight end Bo Hartsfield and sophomore tight end Eric Rice of Starkville.