Dave Wommack liked what he saw this spring, but was frustrated at times with the lack of depth and some of the front-line players that were missing this spring.
The Hogs did not have Tony Bua, Jimmy Beasley, Eddie Jackson, Batman Carroll, Lorinezo Robinson and Marvin Jackson this spring. Bua, Beasley, Robinson and Marvin Jackson are rehabbing injuries and will be back in the fall. Carroll and Jackson were with the track team.
"We did some things different this spring in that we decided to leave Bo Mosley at safety since that is where he'll play in the fall," Wommack said. "He would have been a starting corner this spring, but it's not fair to him to play him at corner in the spring and then move him again back to safety in the fall. So, we left him there. Our secondary would have been better with Bo at corner this spring."
The free safety position is still up in the air heading into the fall, although Vickiel Vaughn and Jimarr Gallon both did good things most of the spring there.
"I think you want to see what Tony Bua can do back there," Wommack said. "I think also that we saw in non-contact drills this spring that Lorinezo Robinson would be very good there. He did all the things correctly and made plays in pass skeleton. We just didn't want him to be in any contact this spring with his shoulder. I feel good about what he can do there, too, and we feel like Tony might be good there and we know we can move Tony back to wolf in a second."
In the line, Wommack thinks Jeb Huckeba is the real deal at defensive end.
"That's something we feel very good about," Wommack said. "Jeb is playing so hard and so fast on every play. And, he's getting better every snap he plays there. He gives us true speed on the outside. He's going to help our defense.
"In the interior, we have seen Arrion Dixon really step it up. He's been a big-time player this spring. We have a lot of confidence in the way Arrion is going to play in the fall. Scott Davenport has given indications he can be counted on for some real help inside, too. I think we can get 15-20 plays out of Scott at nose, and that's going to help our defense. Elliott Harris is a good player, but he's too light. He has to gain some weight to play in there."
Wommack said the Hogs have made adjustments to their scheme and played "much more cover two" in the secondary. That means they have played with two true safeties, instead of playing either the strong safety or free safety at the line of scrimmage as they have the past several seasons.
"We've looked at that and playing much more zone," Wommack said. "I think we still have some improvement to make there, but we wanted to look at that because we couldn't play about half of our defense because of personnel shortages. We didn't have enough corners to play our gator package. So, we just didn't even get into that and that was the package we've played the most the last couple of years. We'll have enough corners in the fall to play it and it will still be a big part of what we do. So, we looked at our cover two packages a lot this spring."
The cover two looks are great against deep passing, and the Hogs will use that alignment more in the future, but it doesn't allow for as many blitz looks since the safeties have so much further to travel to be in the backfield.
"I think we got better in the secondary," Wommack said. "I liked being at linebacker and I think Bobby liked being in the secondary. That (switch in coaching assignments) worked well. We are doing some new things in the secondary."
Along with the cover two packages, Allen has changed the way the Hogs cover in the secondary, adding some drops that weren't being used previously. The secondary has learned a true back pedal and that slowed the secondary in the early days of spring drills, but that change appeared to take hold as spring progressed.
"I like what Bobby has done in the secondary," Wommack said. "Those guys got better and some guys that may not figure in the starting group that are true walk-ons did some good things for us this spring."
Wommak Pleased with Spring
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