Not Perfect, But Very 'Pretty'

Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack and Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner are both veteran coaches with decades of experience under their belts, but they will both remember Saturday's 41-20 victory over Auburn for a long time.

For a while in the Ole Miss-Auburn game, Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack admitted being concerned.

His guys simply weren't stopping Auburn, who scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter.

"From the press box, it looked like we were flat. We were missing tackles and overrunning gaps. It looked like we were over aggressive with our assignments, but it also looked a little flat at the same time," said Wommack. "They had a little over 160 yards or so, but that second quarter didn't look good to me."

Wommack and the defensive coaches figured out what was happening and started adjusting late in the second quarter, but the players were not grasping their instructions.

At halftime, the message was received clearly and from that point on the Rebel defense was in total control the rest of the way. Auburn had a mind-boggling 34 yards, if our math is correct, in the second half and a paltry 213 yards for the whole game.

"It really wasn't a big deal. They were running a stutter play that was giving us trouble. We started loading the side when Onterio McCalebb was on the weak side. We were just overrunning everything. We had to slow our linebackers down some and then our fits started working better in the second half," he explained.

The Rebels shifted back and forth, a lot, between a 4-2-5 and a 4-3 defense. Wommack had his reasons for the musical chairs of defenders.

"Auburn was looking at what we were doing and making their calls based on that, so we started giving them different looks in between plays. They would look at our defense and call something and we'd move our defense or switch from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3. I think it kept them off-balance in the second half," Dave noted. "Everything on film looked to be going wide in our scouting so our guys flowed that way quickly and overran some stuff in the middle. Once we slowed down a bit, we were fine and in control."

Mobbing Mike Marry
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With the win under their belts, Wommack believes the Rebels will start playing with more and more confidence.

"It's huge to win this game. That was a major hump for us to get over," he said. "It's like a baseball player when he's trying to break a record, there is just so much pressure. Last week, we came up short and that hurt.

"These kids hung with it and never dropped their heads. They never doubted they were going to get over the hump and get this win. I'm really proud of them. Last week was really hard. There are a bunch of kids who really care on this team. They deserved this one."

Wommack still doesn't feel the Rebel defense has played a complete game the way he wants, but he believes that is coming.

"I think we will get there because these kids are not satisfied, they work hard and it means something to them," he closed, "They will keep working to get better each week and this win will strengthen that resolve."

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner has felt like the coaching version of Jimmy Swaggart the past seven weeks.

He has preached and preached and preached - if you take care of the ball, you will win.

Finally, the Rebel offense, led by a flawless Bo Wallace, did just that - zero turnovers and a big conference win.

"I talk about protecting the ball more than I breath," Werner said. "This just goes to show you what not having any turnovers will do for you.

"Bo did a tremendous job of running the offense and taking care of the ball. He didn't throw a ball that was even close to an interception that I saw and when he ran the ball, he tucked it and protected it."

Dan was also very proud of TB Jeff Scott, who rushed for 137 yards and had a 55-yard TD reception after appearing to be down, springing to his feet and sprinting to the end zone.

Scott recognizes crowd
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"He is electric. On that particular play, we told Bo we were sending everyone deep and as soon as everyone cleared underneath, get Jeff the ball and let him make a play. We knew he would," noted Werner.

All week leading up to the game, there was concern, apprehension even, about the Auburn front four on defense. The Rebels gained 451 yards on the day despite the nervousness.

"I thought we did a good job of moving the pocket. When we did sit still, we got rid of the ball quickly. The offensive staff had a nice plan and the kids executed it. We wanted to spread the ball around and work the perimeter, which we did effectively," he noted.

On the Rebs' first score, they ran a "bunch" play and flipped the ball to TB Randall Mackey going wide right. Mackey stopped and threw back across the field to Wallace, uncovered, for the score.

"That was Coach (Hugh) Freeze's play. We do a quick huddle and snap it quickly with our linemen bunched up tight," said Werner. "Randall threw a perfect pass, Bo caught it and it was a good way to start the game for sure."

Werner said a weight has been temporarily lifted from the shoulders of everyone in the Ole Miss program.

"I know this, I feel lighter than the last time I was in this room after the A&M game," he laughed. "You could see it on the players' faces what it meant to them.

"This staff has not been here long. We don't really know what the last two years has been like, but we got a better idea when they let out a lot of emotions in the locker room. We are very excited for them and for ourselves. It means a lot to all of us to see these kids get rewarded. They have bought in and believe in us and it's gratifying to see them get over that hump that has been hanging over them for two years."

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