Ole Miss believes it found the formula to handle adversity vs. Tulane: 'You're going to see us do this again'

Sep. 10—NEW ORLEANS — In a season that is bound to have its share of twists and turns, Ole Miss need look no further than its Week 2 matchup at No. 24 Tulane to know it has the necessary to grit to win the tough ones.

The Green Wave jumped out to a 10-point lead in the second quarter Saturday at Yulman Stadium against the No. 20 Rebels (2-0).

After scoring in less than a minute to open the game, junior quarterback Jaxson Dart and the Ole Miss offense had trouble finding traction following an injury to top wide receiver Tre Harris. The defense, meanwhile, was being carved up by backup quarterback Kai Horton, who was making the first start of his career due to an injury to star Michael Pratt.

The Rebels trailed 17-10 at halftime. They wound up winning 37-20.

"The game of football, it's always onto the next play, especially if you make a mistake," Dart said. "The game's four quarters, and it's long. So, the game's never won in the first half. It's always won in the second half."

Headed into halftime, Dart said he talked to head coach Lane Kiffin, and the two agreed the game felt a bit similar to the 2022 matchup at Vanderbilt. In that game, the Commodores led 20-17 at halftime before exploding in the second half for a 52-28 victory. The Rebels were going to figure things out, Dart said. It was just a matter of when.

"We just had to stay diligent in our process and trust our coaching and trust our training," Dart said.

That message rang especially true on defense, as Ole Miss settled itself down in a big way after a tough start. Tulane racked up 184 yards in the first half and was 6 of 9 on third downs. While the Green Wave's second half yardage totals wound up being fairly close to the first-half output, Ole Miss held them to 3 of 13 on third down and forced a pair of turnovers.

"I really think this game brought us closer together as a defensive unit," senior outside linebacker Isaac Ukwu said.

Dart was clear postgame that the 2022 version of Ole Miss would likely not have won this type of game. The Rebels started off 7-0 but lost five of six to end the season. When they got down in games, things generally got worse rather than better. But the 2023 Rebels, Ukwu said, have already learned how to rally during the tough times. And that is bound to come in handy over the next few months, particularly when SEC play begins.

"You're going to see, later on in the season, you're going to see us do this again, handle adversity, and you're going to look back at what happened in the Tulane game and how we were able to fight back," Ukwu said. ... "I feel like the way we were able to step up and do our thing is really going to be a testament to what we're able to do for the rest of the season."