Adjustments Made

After looking out of sorts in the first half against Central Arkansas, the Ole Miss Rebels went on a 35-0 tear in the second half. Who says adjustments aren't important? Go inside to read what the Rebel coordinators had to say about the 49-27 Reb victory.

The Rebel defense was overplaying the run, giving up chunks of yardage.

As a result, the University of Central Arkansas went into the locker room at halftime with a 20-14 lead and it was shades of 2011 all over again.

Or was it? Not acording to Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack.

"I think our kids were really hyped up in the first half. We were getting so much penetration from our defensive line that UCA's offensive line was getting to our second level on our linebackers and if the D-line didn't make the play in the backfield, they were gashing us a little," Wommack said. "We were dominating their offensive linemen, but not doing it under control and the right way."

The remedy was clear, and very fixable, to him.

"We had to slow our defensive linemen down a little and get them to fit off the hips of the offensive linemen. Once we did that, we maintained good gap integrity," he continued. "I don't think UCA gained but 35 yards in the second half until we put the twos and threes in for their last TD.

"We were just out of control and amped up in the first half. We had to settle them down."

Wommack was not surprised with the first half or the second half performances.

"This was very typical of the game we played against UCA last year when we were at Arkansas State. The kids were too excited, they were putting their eyes in the wrong place and playing out of control," he noted. "But at halftime, our coaches got them to settle down and made some good adjustments.

"UCA does a good job offensively and they put us on our heels some in the first half, but our kids responded well and did what they had to do in the second half once they started recognizing things better. We've got a lot of young kids out there and they are playing for the first time in a new system. That first half was not a shocker to me."

Wommack was asked about the play of Stinger LB Denzel Nkemdiche, who had his first collegiate start and was the Rebs' leading tackler with eight.

Frank Crawford
Associated Press

"He did a tremendous job. He made a bunch of plays for us. I was very proud of him. He was pumped up, playing hard and producing," said Dave.

Freshman DE Channing Ward also got a taste of what college football is all about.

"For a guy who has only been here a week or two, he did fine. He's just got to keep growing. He will be a force once he learns everything. He's long, physical and he has natural pass rush ability," Dave commented. "Channing just has to learn to play technique football and within the scheme."

Wommack ran a bunch of players in and out of the lineup all night. By design or to get everyone on film for grading purposes?

"We have a lot of kids who are real close right now, so we wanted to give them a chance to show us what they could do," he explained. "We are going by committee now, but as the season wears on, we expect the cream to start to rise to the top.

"As a coach, until you see them in a game, and see that look in their eyes that they want the challenge, you just don't know. We learned more about them tonight and will continue to. We have to learn who our players are, but I will say this - we cannot start out the way we did tonight and expect to be successful in many games this year."

Overall, Wommack said there is a lot to fix, which he expected, but he was proud of the way his guys responded in the second half.

"They calmed down and listened at halftime. They made the adjustments we asked them to make. They played with their eyes better and hung in there until they started getting it right. From there, we took over," Wommack closed. "I was unbelievably proud of those things."

On the offensive side of the ball, the Rebs started strong with two first-quarter touchdowns out of their temp game, but didn't tally in the second quarter.

In the second half, however, they put up 35 points and were in total control.

"The first half, we stumbled around a little bit. We opened with two really nice drives, but then Central Arkansas threw us a curve," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "Last year, they blitzed about 16% of the time. Tonight, it was closer to 80% and with several blitzes we had not seen or worked on.

"At halftime, we settled them down, told them what we needed to do from an adjustment standpoint and they played really well."

How the quarterbacks would do was a mystery, but in the end, both Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti pleased Werner.

They combined for 25-31 for 330 yards and 3 TDs passing. What's not to be pleased with?

"I was very proud of both of them. The one interception we had was a batted ball. We completed right at 80% of our passes. It's hard to find too much fault," said Dan. "Bo made some really good decisions. In fact, I didn't see any bad decisions in the passing game from either of them. Some of the reads in the run game were not good, which we can work on and fix, but the only ball that got close to an interception, as I said, was a batted ball."

Barry Brunetti
Associated Press

The Rebs also rushed for over 200 yards, with a sick Randall Mackey and Jeff Scott not even dressed for the game.

"What UCA was doing caused us some issues in the first half, but we adjusted at halftime and had a good plan for the run game in the sescond half," said Werner. "They were bringing everyone in the box and we had to loosen them up with some passing, which we did.

"On our first score, Bo made a great read against a defense we had not seen. He figured it out on the fly, pulled the ball and the field opened up for him to score from 25 yards.

"When Bo came out early in the fourth quarter to get some IV fluids, Barry drove us right down the field to help put the game away. I called him from the box on the sidelines and told him this is why we rep two quarterbacks and to take control. He did. I was proud of him for that."

Donte Moncrief had eight catches for 104 yards and a 53-yard TD and the tight ends caught six passes between Jamal Mosley and Ferbia Allen.

"We want to spread the ball around, which I thought we did a good job of, and we want to take some shots downfield, which we did," he noted. "When we started clicking with the passing game in the seocnd half, the run game got better because UCA had to back off some.

"On the long pass to Donte, we kind of sucked them in tight with several short passes and then went over the top. We got them to bite and Bo made a great read and throw. That was the best throw of the night. First, he had to get to his fourth progression and then he had to thread the needle on a bootleg with someone in his face. A great throw that not many QBs can make. Of course, Donte is a big time player and he made a big time play."

The offensive line? Again, the name of the game was adjusting.

"Matt (Luke) did a fine job of adjusting to what UCA was doing in the first half at halftime. We got the QB protected and started clicking," Dan stated.

In the end, the offensive tempo also took its toll on the visiting Bears.

"That's the whole point of the tempo game - to wear them down and get them gassed. I think it worked tonight," he smiled.

In the end, despite a first half that was shaky, on a couple of fronts, the Rebs got their act together, thanks to some calm coaching and keen adjustments, and walked away with a lopsided win.


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