Different Sides

In Saturday's scrimmage, the first of fall camp, the Rebel offense struggled to protect the football. That didn't sit well with OC Dan Werner, but it suited Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack just fine. Read about it inside.

When one side falters, the other succeeds.

It's the nature of any football practice and is exactly what took place in Saturday's first full scrimmage of fall camp for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Werner's offense had six turnovers, meaning Wommack's defense created six.

The proverbial six of one, a half dozen of the other.

Consequently, Wommack was in a bit better mood than Werner after the two-hour scrimmage.

"The number one thing we wanted our guys to do was come out and play hard and fast. We also wanted to eliminate alignment and assignment errors," said Wommack. "We've given them a lot of things to learn, a lot of defense thus far, and we wanted to execute.

"Without watching the film, I thought we did some things better today. We created a lot of turnovers today and we've been doing that better in the camp so far. I think the kids are starting to play better with their eyes. We have a long way to go in that area, but we have turned the ball over quite a bit this camp and today (Saturday). We need to keep that going into the season."

Dave Wommack
File Photo

CB Senquez Golson had one of four interceptions on the day.

"I look at him like a true freshman because we didn't have him in the spring due to him playing baseball," Dave continued. "He's extremely talented. He's behind some of the guys on our defense because he hasn't had as many reps as them, but he's talented and he's making some plays. His athleticism has allowed him to overcome some things. He just needs to keep working at it and learning as he goes. He's got some bad habits to clean up, but he's making improvements.

"On the other side, we don't notice Wesley Pendleton a lot, which is a good sign for a corner. It means he's doing his job. We need to get Senquez to that stage and we think we will."

Wommack has been pleased with the overall play of the defensive front. Coach Chris Kiffin is rotating in and out a lot of players along the front four, but the one who has stood out from the standpoint of being a bonus maybe not expected, is freshman DT Issac Gross.

"What a pleasant surprise he has been," said Wommack. "In our first three-on-three the other day, he held up better than anyone out here. He has great quickness. He has shown us a lot, he's playing a lot and he's picking things up really quickly. He's way ahead for a freshman.

"Obviously, we are concerned about his size. We move them around so much, we hope to negate some of that, but I'm not going to lie - I wish he was 25 pounds heavier, having to play in this league. It is what it is right now, though and he's doing well."

At linebacker, Aaron Garbutt has stood out. Wommack feels the rest will be "by committee."

"I think we will play all of them right now. Garbutt has showed up as much as anyone right now in terms of being consistent and doing the right things,"Wommack noted. "I'd like to see some more of them step up. We have 20 more days to make that happen."

At safety, Cody Prewitt is the one drawing Wommack's eye right now.

"He has stepped up as much as anyone. We got a misconception on him in the spring, but he was injured. Cody has been the quarterback for us and has started running the show on the back end," Wommack allowed. "He has made some mistakes, but he's come a long way.

"Obviously, losing Charles Sawyer has set us back some. Chief (Brown) is now there and we have the new young guys, Trae Elston and Quintavius Burdette. Trae is making a lot of improvement, but it scares you playing a young guy this quickly. He's going to be fine in time, but he's learning the ropes right now."

Overall, through Saturday's scrimmage, Wommack likes the energy the defense has played with.

"We've got work to do, no doubt, but if they will keep attacking things the way they have to this point, we will make up ground," he closed.

Werner's assessment was not as upbeat, but he was coming off the field after watching his unit turn the ball over way too much.

"You want to talk to me now?" he deadpanned. "We just turned the ball over way too much and made a whole lot of mistakes. That's the bottom line.

"We have a lot of keys that are important to us, but the number one thing is taking care of the ball. We did not take care of the ball today. That bothers me. We had bad reads, we had bad throws and we had good plays by the defense.It all equaled a bunch of turnovers - more than is acceptable.

Dan Werner
File Photo

"If the defense is making great plays, that's one, maybe two, turnovers. The rest are on us totally and we have to get that fixed."

Werner said the scrimmage wasn't a wash. There were some big plays made by the offense, there were some good decisions made. There were some individual players who had good days.

"We did all those things, but good offenses are consistent. The thing is you start out protecting the football, then you work on consistency and then you make plays. Right now, we are still at the stage of learning to protect the ball. We have to get beyond that," Werner stated.

On the quarterback situation, Werner said he's been going back and forth between Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace.

"One day, one of them will do well and I'll lean that way. The next day, the other one does well," he said. "They are competing, which is what we want."

The offensive line has shown some improvement, according to Werner.

"Against this defense, where they give you so many looks and move guys around so much, it's been a struggle to get anything going up front," he explained. "But when we get into the right protection against what they are doing, our guys are doing a good job.

"It will help the guys up front when we get into the season and can gameplan more against what the opposition does."

Werner said the whole offense will be in by the first game, but it will constantly evolve.

"We will get the offense in during camp, but we will adjust it on the fly. We'll change it up some according to what the opposition does or when we self-scout and see if we are getting into any tendencies," he noted. "We've got most of it now. It's just a matter of fine-tuning it from this point on."

One thing Dan is excited about is the running back situation.

"We went from thinking in spring that we had one or two quality backs. Now, we feel we have four or five. Two of them are young, but we like them. Randall Mackey has really stepped up at TB. Jeff Scott didn't even play today - we know he has ability," Werner assessed. "Those two freshmen can make plays. They can make you miss, they are tough and they are fast. Both of them have a lot of talent.

"We are a lot more confident in our backs now than we were. I think that bodes well for our run game."

Out wide,the givens are Ja-Mes Logan and Donte Moncrief, but Cody Core, a freshman, has also made a impression thus far in camp.

"He's swimming a bit mentally at times, but when he knows what to do, he's really good. We just have to work him through the learning process and we think he will do a great job for us," Werner closed.

There it is.

One side relatively pleased. One side not so much.

The beat goes on and the grind continues. . . .

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