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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

OXFORD, Miss. - In the first three weeks, Western Kentucky, Troy and Tennessee picked at the scab on UF's defense.

On Saturday, Ole Miss ripped it off, leaving a raw secondary unit for everyone to see.

Rebels quarterback Seth Adams, who came in nursing a sprained throwing shoulder, felt healthy enough to pass for 302 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown bomb.

The Gators' defensive backs missed tackles, took wrong routes and flat out couldn?t keep up with receivers at times.

BObviously, we?ve got a young secondary that got exposed a little bit,C Coach Urban Meyer said.

Playing without top corner Markihe Anderson (sprained PCL), freshman Joe Haden and sophomore Wondy Pierre-Louis played like the first-year starters that they are.

On Ole Miss? highlight of the game, wide receiver Mike Wallace hauled in a 77-yard pass for a score in the third quarter.

He didn?t zig or zag, he just ran straight past Haden down the UF sideline.

BThat dude, he?s one of the fastest kids I?ve seen,C Haden said.

Freshman safety Major Wright missed out on that play, too.

Wright replaced much-maligned free safety Kyle Jackson in the third quarter.

Jackson was to blame for Adams? first touchdown, a 19-yard strike to Shay Hodge.

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Jackson tried to cut off the pass by running in front of Hodge, but the ball zipped past him before he could make a play.

Meyer said going into the week that Wright and Jackson?s starting battle would be handled on a day-to-day basis.

That play may have cemented Jackson?s demotion, though he remains in high spirits, Joiner said.

BI think his confidence is still the same,C he said. BThere?s not really anything I see for his confidence to be lower.C

Joiner, the senior strong safety and leader of the defensive backfield, came to the aid of all of his backs, reinforcing them with words of encouragement during the game.

BAt times we played well and at times we didn?t,C said Joiner, who salvaged a rough day with a late interception. BThey hit us with a couple big passes, and we came up with a couple big plays. It was on and off in the secondary.C

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