Published on October 30th, 2014 | by Carver Rayburn0
If They Don’t Score, They Can’t Beat You
The visiting team? Johnny Vaught’s Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels won that game, 46–17. Guy would eventually sign with Ole Miss in 1959.
Over the next four years, Ole Miss would lose just three games. The McComb, Mississippi native was co-captain of the 1962 10–0 Ole Miss Rebels—the last team to achieve an undefeated season. The team was named National Champions by three different polling services and still remains the only team in the school’s history to achieve an undefeated and untied season.
“If they can’t score they can’t beat you,” Guy said.
Very simple. Straight forward. Very true.
That 1962 squad yielded an average of just 5.2 points per game. The 2014 team is holding opponents to just 10 points per game.
Vaught’s philosophy during the stretch of Ole Miss dominance was to beat them with your defense. Don’t turn the ball over, and take few risks on offense. He would even punt on third down if he was inside his own 50, believing he minimized the chances for the other team to score by not turning the ball over in their own territory.
“You can tell from our play calling that we’re comfortable as long as the defense is playing like they are,” Freeze said after the recent game against Tennessee. “We’re very cautious at times. You have to figure if we can score 17–20 points then we have a chance to win a lot of games with the way we’re playing.”
Guy still holds the record for the longest interception return for a touchdown with a 100 yard score against Tennessee.
“I was watching their quarterback and he was looking for me before that play,” the retired orthodontist said. “He made a fake hand off and tried to throw to the flat. I was waiting and just jumped on the chance. There was no way they were going to catch me. After the touchdown, Vaught grabbed me and said, ‘God Bless You, Son.’ We went up 14–0 after that touchdown.”
Damn the Torpedoes
What was so incredible about that 1962 squad was the way they won. The campus at Ole Miss was in chaos amid riots following the admittance of African-American James Meredith. Federal Troops had taken over the practice fields. Home games were moved to Jackson. Still, the Mighty Rebels marched on.
ESPN talks about distractions for teams nowadays that are limited to media hype and disciplinary problems. Imagine a tear gassed campus in the midst of a war. Talk about overcoming adversity.
“I remember a crowd started to gather around the Lyceum, mostly out-of-towners and non-students that had heard on the radio what was going on,” Guy said. “The troops came in, a tear gas canister was fired, and chaos ensued.”
“There was speculation that the school might close, or that the season might be cancelled,” Guy said. “We became a very close group, that football team. We pretty much stayed in the dorms if we were not in class or at practice.”
It was a testament to the times that the football team continued. The people rallied around Vaught’s Rebels and Ole Miss began to heal. The troops remained on campus the rest of the semester, occupying the Rebels practice field.
“We practiced in the stadium,” Guy recalled. “I don’t ever remember that many people watching us practice. I would look up and see lots of troops in the stadium, watching us practice.”
Some 51 years later, the football gods are smiling on the Mighty Mississippi Rebels again. Ole Miss enters its next two games against SEC powers LSU and Auburn, while holding true to the defensive effort put forth by Guy and company in 1962.
Guy is amazed at the job head coach Hugh Freeze has done with this group of Rebels.
“If you think about it, Freeze has only had two full years of recruiting to install his system,” Guy said. “It’s a trademark of excellence what they are doing. It’s special. Not only the way he handles himself, but [his] focus on helping these kids become better players, students, and people.”
Guys said that Vaught surrounded himself with a relentless staff and Freeze has done the same. Vaught used a process that his entire staff believed in and bought into, much like Freeze, Guy said.
As Ole Miss enters its final stretch of the 2014 season, Guy plans to be there to cheer on his alma mater.
“Me and Billy Ray (Adams) have a house just off the square in Oxford,” he said. “We will be there for the Auburn game.”
In 2014, the Ole Miss legends are still as enthusiastic about Ole Miss Football as they were on the sidelines at Tiger Stadium in 1956.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #215 (published October 23, 2014).
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