Closer And Closer

Coaches are never fully satisfied - it's just their nature, but Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack believes his guys are "on schedule" as the 2012 season rapidly approaches. Read his thoughts inside.

Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack is not about to say the Ole Miss stoppers are a finished product as the Rebels eye their season opener against Central Arkansas Saturday.

But he will concede they are "on schedule" in regards to where he expected them to be at the end of fall camp.

"We have narrowed down some of the things we are going to do on defense and we are getting closer and closer to where we need to be," said Wommack. "We still have some mental work to do, but they are practicing hard and I think they will play hard.

"In short, we are getting there and we are on schedule."

Wommack and his staff have installed the whole defensive system during spring training and fall camp, but they will only use a portion of it in each game.

"We will use about a fourth of our defense in the opener. As they become more and more confident and familiar as games click on, we will increase what we go into games with," he explained. "Even at 25%, we will still be able to be pretty multiple with what we do."

Dave has been pleased with the focus and intensity of the defensive players throughout fall camp.

Charles Sawyer
File Photo

"I have been really proud of their effort. They have hustled, they are coming in every day to study in the film room and they want to do good," he said. "I am just like every Rebel fan right now - I am excited to see them play, to get this going.

"The third week of fall camp is very tough, but they pushed through it and now during game week, they are even more focused. They are anxious to play and to get this season started."

Wommack was looking for improvement and effort in the fall camp. He got what he was hoping for.

"All of our guys have made a lot of improvement and I think here lately the linebackers have made a nice jump. What has happened is that we have honed everything down for our first gameplan and they aren't as cluttered mentally," he noted. "They know the gameplan and consequently they play faster.

"One player who has made a real nice jump here in the last week or so is Stinger Denzel Nkemdiche. He's done some really good things here lately and it will reflect in the playing time he gets."

For a good bit of fall camp, the defense has been without the services of three vital cogs, two of which are starters - CB Wesley Pendleton and Rover Charles Sawyer.

They are back in action now.

"It was good to see them come back. Paul Jackson and his staff did a great job in keeping them in shape while they were sidelined. I was afraid they may be real sore this week, but they haven't shown any signs of that," Wommack evaluated. "Charles is so important to us on the back end. He runs the defense back there. He makes all the checks and communicates well."

One area that gets little attention but is important, was recognized by Wommack.

"Our scout team has done a great job. Robert Ratliff is running the show at QB and the linemen, backs, receivers, all of them, have worked really hard to give us a good look. I have been very proud of them. They deserve a lot of credit," Wommack declared.

Even though players like C.J. Johnson, Cody Prewitt, Issac Gross and others have drawn much of the spotlight throughout fall camp, a lot of eyes will be on Mr. Channing Ward, who came on board after being academically cleared by the NCAA last week and is trying to work himself into playing shape.

"We are trying to narrow things down for him and give him a package of things he can do. He will just get better and better, but it will take him some time," closed Dave. "He really needs two weeks or so to get more things down. Don't think for a second he's going to just step in from Aberdeen High School and have it all down pat. We just have to be patient."

What's next?

Tee it up.

Wommack is ready and believes his defense will be too.

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