Defensive Adjustments

After Texas had so much success, there was talk of some changes for the Ole Miss defense, especially the backfield. The Rebels went about making some of those Tuesday.

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Charles Sawyer is moving from safety to cornerback. One of his teammates, Wesley Pendleton, said he believes it's a good move.

"I feel good about it. We have more depth at cornerback with Charles (Sawyer) moving over to corner now," said the senior from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. "So we have Cliff (Coleman), and he had a pretty good game Saturday. Just moving people around so we'll have more depth. Trae (Elston) is coming on good, so I think he'll do good at safety."

Elston appears set to play a big role against Tulane after missing the Texas game due to suspension by the Southeastern Conference for a hit on a UTEP player, which during the actual game went unflagged.

Ole Miss cornerbacks coach Wesley McGriff said the defensive moves should help, and they'll know more this weekend.

"It gives you quality depth," he said. "Charles is a quality player and an outstanding person. We've just got to get the right people in the right spot. Having Charles in that spot is really going to give us a shot in the arm and give us a chance to be a little more productive at that position.

Wesley Pendleton
Chuck Rounsaville

"He's a good football player. Playing corner is a different deal than playing safety," McGriff continued. "I think Charles will do a great job. He's definitely going to be an addition, and I'm glad to have him over there."

McGriff said the Rebels have to play better, and he is surprised by some of the things that went wrong in the game against the Longhorns.

"One of the biggest things is we've got to do better on the vertical ball," he said as Texas was able to throw the ball over the top and deep at times against the Rebel defense, racking up 326 yards through the air for an average of 17.2 yards per reception. "We've got to take those opportunities away from teams. We can't allow teams to get the ball over our heads. We've definitely got to do a better job, I've got to do a better job of coaching and getting guys in the right situation."

McGriff said the players just didn't finish plays. That was basically the difference.

"They're in position. They've just got to turn and look and get the football," he said. "The biggest thing is just finishing the play. The kids really play hard. We've just got to do a good job of taking away those vertical opportunities."

Pendleton said the Rebels will be 3-1 if they win in New Orleans Saturday, and that is all they are thinking about currently.

"Just keep our heads up," he said of what the Rebels have to do now. "It's not the end of the season. It's just one game. Texas was a pretty good team, better than we expected. So we've just got to keep our heads up and just move forward to Tulane. To get a win this weekend would put us in good shape, put us above a lot of teams. It will help us out at the end. We'll be in a good spot."

Coach Wesley McGriff
Chuck Rounsaville

Pendleton said the team is looking forward to playing its first road game and also in a historic venue.

"This first road trip, it's going to be good going on the road," he said, mentioning he's from Natchez and will have a big contingent of family and friends at the game. "Going down to New Orleans and playing Tulane, I feel this is a game for us to bounce back on and just get our confidence back up and get ready for SEC play. It will be my first time to play in the Superdome or in a NFL stadium. I know it will be very exciting for us. It will be a good time."

But only if the Rebels play better, especially defensively, according to McGriff. He said now is the time for his defensive players to step up and get better. And he said he and the other coaches have to do their parts as well.

"You have to have a short memory, whether you make a good play or a bad play," he said. "We hope they get coached up on what they did wrong, then forget about it, and go out there and stop the next play. You can't let that one play beat you twice. If I'm on the opposing team and I see your head hanging, I'm going to come right back at you. You have to forget about it and go play the next play.

"The kids are going to respond exactly how (the coaches) respond," McGriff continued. "If we walk in with our head hanging, they're going to do the same thing. We buried this last game, and now we've got all our attention on Tulane."

McGriff said they know what to do. Now it's a matter of going out and getting the job done.

"At the end of the day, you have to make plays and get more turnovers than your opponent," he said. "And you have to take away opportunities they try on you. We're not quite there yet, but we're going to get there."

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