Light Coming On

Now that everyone is healthy again, the Rebel secondary feels like they made strides against Alabama, but they know the challenge will be different at Arkansas. Read CB Jeremy McGee's thoughts inside.

In reflecting on the effort by the secondary, and the Rebel defense as a whole, against Alabama last Saturday, senior CB Jeremy McGee said he saw the lights come on.

"We played four quarters, probably for the first time all year. We played a complete game against Alabama, versus two or three quarters in the previous games," said McGee. "For some reason none of us can explain, we have had lapses in the other games, but we finished what we started against Alabama.

"That's kind of difficult to say since we lost, but we had a different feeling coming off the field in Tuscaloosa. We knew we had left everything out there on the field. As an athlete, you never want to lose, but when you know you have given it all you had, you can live with it and deal with it."

McGee didn't really have an ironclad explanation for it, but he did have a theory.

"I thought we practiced harder to get ready for Alabama. For one thing, everyone got back healthy - we had four secondary guys get concussions, including me, before the open date," he stated. "During the open week, we all healed up and we were fresh and ready to go.

Jeremy McGee

"That led to better practices and the coaches are right when they say you play how you practice. We were focused all week and that carried over into the game. Again, I don't want anyone thinking we are satisfied or anything like that - we lost - and winning is all that matters, but we could at least take from the loss that we played hard for 60 minutes and we can build off that."

McGee is aware the focus will change this week.

Alabama is an in-the-box offense, primarily. Arkansas is an aerial team, primarily.

"The focus will shift from the front seven to the back four this week. Sure, it's important for the front to get pressure on the quarterback, but as much as they throw, you can't get to the QB every time. That means we are going to be challenged like at no other time this year in the secondary," he noted. "A lot of teams throw the ball a lot, but Arkansas does it better than anyone we have played.

"They will test us and test us and test us again and we will have to have total focus for 60 minutes and will have to expect anything for 60 minutes. We will prepare as if they are going to throw every down."

The coverage was better against the Tide, who has as good a group of wide receivers as anyone, but again, it's the number of times the Hogs throw that has McGee gearing up for the biggest challenge of the secondary thus far.

"We covered the Alabama receivers tighter than we had the other receivers we have faced. We were more aggressive and played more relaxed," he continued. "We were also more physical than we had been. We were very physical that week in practice and that carried over too."

McGee is aware Hog QB Ryan Mallett is a great talent - he played against him last year.

"The guy has a cannon, and he's pretty accurate if he has time. You think you have the receiver covered and he fits the ball in small windows with zip on it," Jeremy added. "You have to react quicker on one of his throws because it's getting there quicker.

"And he has good athletes to throw to. Their receivers are very well-coached and they are talented. We get that every week, but these guys are probably a notch above."

The SEC is known as a defensive conference, but this year a lot of teams are scoring a lot of points.

"We have given up too many points this year so far, but that seems to be the trend this year for some reason. I don't think defenses are getting worse, I think offenses are getting better," McGee stated.

McGee knows the game against Arkansas is huge, for a lot of reasons.

"We don't want to get below .500 again. That's not a good feeling. You feel pressure you don't need to feel when you are under .500. We want to keep our heads above water and build off that," he closed. "This is the biggest game of the year for us. There will be other biggest-game-of-the-year later, but for now, this is it."

The Rebel secondary will be tested, twisted, challenged and assaulted.

How will they hold up? McGee says they are ready for the challenge.


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