'Did What We Had To'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The 30-27 win over Arkansas was probably not the way Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack or Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner would have drawn it up, but nobody is fussing about the end result.

In the first half of the Ole Miss-Arkansas game, Dave Wommack's Rebel defense was not as crisp as he would like it.

The Razorbacks had not really torched the Rebels, but they had done more than Wommack was willing to accept, 17 points, 281 yards, and 14 first downs.

"They hurt us running the football in the first half and that allowed (Tyler) Wilson to throw for nearly 200 yards," Wommack explained. "We didn't play very well - too many missed assignments."

But as Wommack, called the Mad Scientist by the rest of his defensive staff, is becoming known for to Rebel fans, effective halftime adjustments were on the way.

"It's the whole staff, not just me. We played really well in the second half until the last drive that tied the game," he said. "We gave them some different looks, going with the 3-4 with two safety types - Mike Hilton and Quintavius Burdette - as the outside linebackers. I think that confused them a bit.

"Also, the kids just tuned in better and didn't bust many assignments. It was as much that as any coaching magic, which is overrated when kids are doing their jobs."

Wommack says he grows fonder and fonder of the youth on the Rebel defense.

"I look out there and see Hilton making plays and Q. making plays and it's easy to forget Trae Elston is a freshman and Cody Prewitt is a sophomore," he smiled. "Senquez is a sophomore, C.J. is a sophomore. Issac Gross is a freshman - all of that makes me proud of how far they have come in a short period of time."

The Rebels had two interceptions on the day and easily could have had four or five.

Jeff Scott
Bruce Newman

"We got our hands on the ball a lot, which is a good sign we are getting better back there," he closed.

For the record, Arkansas managed less than 200 yards and scored just 10 points in the second half.

Again, not perfect, but against an offense like UA's, good enough.

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner's bunch had a couple of turnovers in the first half, but still managed 21 points and a late scoring drive to wrap the half up and give the Rebs a 21-17 lead.

But in the second half, things didn't come as easily.

Arkansas's front four bowed its neck and the Rebels could not muster much, until the very end when they drove the length of the field for PK Bryson Rose's game-winning field goal.

"We showed some poise at the end of the first half and at the end of the game," said Werner. "Those were crucial drives for us in a game where we really didn't get much of a rhythm going.

"The sign of a good team is even though we weren't playing well, we found a way to win."

Werner and Hugh Freeze saw the Rebel offense have success in their fast-paced, tempo game, but they were nervous to run that the whole game.

"We didn't want to risk wearing our defense out if we didn't move the ball, so we just strategically picked our spots to use it," Werner explained. "It was good to us when we used it, but we couldn't risk it all the time. Eventually, that is what we want to do, but that would not have been smart today."

To the Hogs' credit, they had the Rebs' number in the second half, for the most part.

"We were reading their ends and they were doing different things with their ends that caused us some confusion. We did not do a good job with their halftime adjustments," he noted. "We had seen those things before and prepared for them, but our kids just had a hard time picking it up for some reason in the second half."

Werner was adamant about finding a way to win while playing less than their best.

"When we executed, we were very good. We just didn't execute enough to have a really, really good game," he stated. "The game of football is not about style points. It's about winning.

"We found a way to win. We kept our poise, we executed when we needed to and we pulled out a big SEC road win. I couldn't be happier or prouder of these guys. What is exciting is that our guys see and understand that when we execute, we can have a special offense and that is what we want to be."

Dan can see the confidence growing.

"Success breeds confidence. We didn't flinch today, not once. We didn't play well overall, but we kept believing, kept fighting and never thought we'd lose. That's confidence," he closed.

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