September 11, 2008

Hard work gets Green back to starter status

Marshay Green is man enough to admit it.

When he got demoted in favor of Dustin Mouzon in August, there was a part of him that longed to take off that white defense jersey and trade it in for his old comfortable blue offense jersey and end the cornerback experiment that started back in the spring.

"I didn't want to let Coach (Tyrone) Nix and Coach (Chris) Vaughn down and also Coach (Houston) Nutt," Green said Wednesday afternoon. "They wanted me to come over here and help out the defense. If I got frustrated and turned my back on them, then I'd be going way over what I'm about. I'm about competing. I feel I would've let them down if I'd done that."

Green wasn't happy when he was informed of his demotion. No competitor would be. However, Green's reaction to the demotion was noticed by teammates and coaches alike.

"It was something I was doing wrong as far as watching the quarterback and looking into the backfield and not putting my eye on the wide receiver and I think that's what lost my job," Green said. "I just had to keep working and believing in what the coaches said."

"That's the sign of a real competitor," said Vaughn, the Rebels' cornerbacks coach. "A guy who's going to say, 'You know what? I take responsibility. I didn't play disciplined. I didn't do the things I was supposed to do to stay the starter. I'm going to work my way back.' And he has worked his way back. Now it's up to him to keep it. If he keeps the same attitude, he'll keep it."

Green will make his first start at cornerback Saturday night when Ole Miss (1-1) entertains Samford (2-0) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Green, a junior from Bastrop, La., has two tackles and a key pass break-up so far this season. Green graded out the highest of any cornerback in Ole Miss' 30-28 loss at Wake Forest.

"When that happens, you have to give him an opportunity, so we're giving him an opportunity to compete," Vaughn said. "He brings ball skills and a competitive nature to the position," Vaughn said, "and that's what we need."

Green will start opposite Cassius Vaughn at cornerback Saturday, with Mouzon and Jeremy McGee expected to see significant playing time as backups.

"We're trying to shuffle our situation around to get the best players on the field all the time," Vaughn said. "You have to be consistent and that's something we didn't have last week. We're going to make a change here and see if we can find some consistency. Marshay has practiced well this week and we'll see what he's going to do Saturday. He's got a great opportunity to come in and finish what he started in the spring."

Green will take the field Saturday on the heels of experiencing the total cornerback experience at Wake Forest. He knocked down a Riley Skinner pass in the end zone in the third quarter to prevent a Demon Deacon touchdown but was flagged for interference on a second-and-8 pass from the Ole Miss 44 in the final minute. That play helped set up Sam Swank's 41-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds left.

"I was talking to Coach Vaughn and what he was saying was I can't worry about the last play," Green said. "I just have to look forward to the next play and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to look forward to the next play and not dwell on the past."

"You have to love to compete, not like to compete," Vaughn said. "You have to love to compete. You have to have a short memory and it doesn't hurt to have a lot of confidence. You're out there on an island by yourself. I'm glad I was a linebacker in college. I don't know if I could, to be honest with you. It takes a different person to be able to play out there and be successful out there."

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