Starting Over

For the Rebel defense this spring, it will be back to the basics as Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix tries to right a ship that capsized last year. Read about it inside.

Little things.



Those are the catch phrases this spring for Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix as he and his staff - which now includes Secondary Coach Keith Burns - basically "start over" in developing the Reb stoppers.

"(The off-season) was a lot of focus on doing the little things right, starting with discipline," Nix said. "Understanding what's important to being a successful football team, to have a chance to potentially be somewhere in the bowl season, to be in the position to win a championship. And that starts with the little things."

How important is that to Nix and company? Very.

"That's what we went back and re-emphasized, doing all the little things right on and off the field. When you can do those things, a lot of times you do have good things happen to you," he said.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix
Chuck Rounsaville
A good reference point is junior Linebacker D.T. Shackelford, who is starting to take over in a leadership role on the team and on the defensive side of the ball.

"D.T. is second to none when it comes to leadership," Nix said. "The first thing you (look for) when you're defining a leader is a guy who leads by example, and he's a guy who does it on and off the field. He's an excellent example of a student-athlete. He's never satisfied with his performance because he understands there's always room for improvement.

"I think his leadership is going to be very critical on this team and on this defense, and he's headed in the right direction."

The Rebs kicked off spring training yesterday in the IPF in shorts and helmets. Nix liked the energy and expected the mistakes.

"I thought it was a lot of good things, but you know the typical first day; there are going to be a lot of mistakes and a lot of things that the guys have to learn from," he said. "The biggest thing is they were very enthusiastic. They seemed to be having fun playing the game of football."

Nix has a major rebuilding task staring at him - turning around a defense that was, statistically, below his standards and doing so with a lot of new faces and thin numbers in the secondary.

"We can't control depth, but it's a challenge every time we line up, especially as thin as we are at corner," he explained. "We're going to keep guys out there and keep them fresh and see what happens.

"The biggest thing is the re-emphasis of doing the little things right, being fundamentally sound and guys understanding their role," Nix said. "One of the major problems is when guys get out of their element and try to do something that's not designed for them to do. Then, potentially, they can make a play, but they can also cost us. Guys understanding the trust in one another, I think you'll have better results."

More from Nix as spring progresses. . . .

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