Not Perfect, But. . .

After the first scrimmage of spring training last Thursday, Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack briefly gave his thoughts on the progress of the Rebel defense.

"We are still missing some fits here and there and overrunning some plays here and there. I wish we had all our players healthy," Wommack noted, "but having said that, I love the way they are trying to get better every day."

With the number one defense, Wommack is starting to see some improvement in the communication aspect of the defense.

"The ones and some of the twos are communicating better, which they should," Dave cotninued. "The newcomers, like Lavon Hooks, and some of the younger guys, it's like starting over again.

"The ones who are getting it have been in this defense for a full year now. They should be communicating better, they should be moving to the next level mentally. They should be to the point where we can tweak some things and keep moving forward. With the newcomers and younger guys, it's just something they will have to go through. They'll get it, in time."

Depth - although a little better this spring - still ranks as number one on Wommack's check list to shore up.

"We've got some players back who have experience, but it seems like we are always thin out there, for now," he stated. "We have some more coming in, but really we didn't sign a massive amount of guys on defense.

"I worry about depth, just like I did last year, but to have this many young guys back feels good. We should get better each and every year as they develop more and more."

In the scrimmage, the number one defense didn't give up a whole lot to the number one offense.

"What made them successful was that they were talking and communicating. They were making adjustments and recognizing formations - doing the things they are supposed to do," Dave commented. "It's hard in a scrimmage because we don't gameplan each other like you would in a regular game, so basically you are just trying to get them to execute the defense.

"What I did like is that they were recognizing and talking. Our ones did that."

Dave Wommack
File Photo

Since C.J. Johnson went down with a broken fibula early in spring, DE Carlos Thompson, who redshirted last year, has taken his place with the one defense.

"I have been pleased with Carlos. I think it was very smart of Coach (Hugh) Freeze to redshirt him last year. He has gotten stronger and faster and he knows the defense much better than he did before. He's a good speed rusher, too."

DT Woodrow Hamilton is another player who has caught Wommack's eye at the midway point of spring ball.

"Before, when we would tell him to go left, he would go right. Now, we say left and he goes left. He has made vast improvements mentally, plus he's very strong and athletic," noted Wommack. "I'm very excited that he is going to get better and consequently, we could be better as a DT unit."

Cornerback, Dave said, is his biggest worry at this stage of the game.

"Corner is The biggest concern I have at this point," he added. "Depth on the defensive line and corner are my main issues thus far. We are trying to get to two-deep at corner. These scrimmages help because it gives kids an idea where they stand and what they have to work on.

"Senquez Golson and Charles Sawyer have the edge right now because they have played in the system for a year, but I'd like to see some of these younger guys come a little faster than they are coming right now."

Nick "Snoop" Brassell is back in the fold. Wommack is pleased to have him.

"I am handling him as if he was going to be ready to go in the fall. He still has academic work to do, but if he's out there in fall, he will play a huge role for us," Wommack said. "He doesn't know or understand the defense yet, but he is so talented. He's an NFL type guy. We certainly hope we have him in the fall."

Wommack has been pleased with the competition and progress of the linebackers.

"We have several guys who have been in the system before and know what we want. They know the defense. When you throw D.T. (Shackelford) in the mix, we have a chance there to be pretty good," he closed.

Compared to last spring, the Rebel defense is "way ahead" of where they were, according to Wommack, but the main reason he is pleased is their desire to get better and better.

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