Offense Comes To Life

While it wasn't a dominant performance, Saturday's showing by the Rebel offense beat the heck out of anything they had done this spring. Read what the Rebel coordinators had to say about the "live" scrimmage.

Some days you are the bus, some days the unfortunate jaywalker.

On Friday, the Rebel defense was definitely the bus, running over the Rebel offense in convincing fashion.

But at Saturday's scrimmage, with the quarterbacks having live contact, the shoe was on the other foot, sort of.

The Rebel offense didn't run over the defense, but they - by all accounts - won the day.

"Friday was one of the worst offensive performances I had ever been associated with, not only here, but anywhere," said OC Dan Werner. "Today was different. I was really proud of the way the guys responded after getting trucked yesterday.

"A big part of Friday's problem was the quarterbacks making bad decisions and being late with their throws, but they bounced back today. Even when they didn't make a great play, they didn't make bad ones and the receivers and running backs picked them up. I was very proud of them bouncing back."

The big part of the offensive success was staying ahead of the chains versus constantly having second and third and longs Friday.

"That's our whole philosophy - stay on schedule. We were better at that today. You can't run an offense effectively if you are constantly in 2nd-and-15 or 3rd-and-12 for instance," Werner stated. "Even when we didn't have a play, we didn't take big losses. We threw it away or settled on getting it back to the line of scrimmage, which is OK."

The quarterbacks - Barry Brunetti, Maikhial Miller and Robert Ratliff - improved Saturday.

"We went backwards yesterday, but took a step forward today. I think going live helped them because they made some good runs and getting positive yards and they had some good scrambles," Dan noted.

While the offense had a much better day, there were plays to be made they didn't, i.e., a couple of big drops come to mind easily.

"We have to find guys who will make those plays. Everyone drops one now and then, but we are looking for guys who come back and make plays after drops. If not, we will find someone who will," Werner said bluntly.

Dan is very pleased with the running backs and their progress this spring.

"Last spring, we had two guys out there. Now we have four or more. All of them are doing well. Look at Mark Dodson - he should be at his senior prom right now, but he is out here making quality runs and lowering his shoulder pads. They are all doing well," he closed.

DC Dave Wommack was philosophical about the after Saturday's scrimmage, which was definitely not the best showing the defense has had this spring, but first he made a joke.

Dave Wommack
File Photo

Werner beat him to the media pool by two steps so he had to wait for his interview.

"Well, he beat me all day today on the field, may as well beat me to you guys too," he smiled.

"I still love my guys. They dominated yesterday and today we didn't stop them, it didn't seem like, but that is good for our team," Wommack stated. "We have some passionate, hungry kids on both sides of the ball who are trying to get better every day on both sides of the ball.

"The film does not lie. You make a bad step or put your eyes in the wrong place, and you will pay. Hopefully, we will go in and watch the film and it will make us better."

It was definitely a tale of two days for the defense.

"If you had asked me about our defense yesterday, I would have told you we could we had our best practice. We were flying around and making plays," he said. "Today, well, it was tough, but it was good for us.

"There are going to times when you start with the ball on your five or in the Red Zone. It happens, and you have to bow you neck and get it done. We can learn from today."

Overall, Dave said he has been pleased through 11 practices how the defense has improved and some individuals have improved.

"I don't think we have 22-25 players yet, but we are getting there and have made progress. We are bringing in a good freshman class to add help," he stated. "I think we are going to get there, but it's a process that doesn't happen over night."

Most Improved? Wommack named several.

"DT Woody Hamilton has made huge strides. CB Carlos Davis, for never having played the position, is showing signs of helping us a lot next fall," Wommack closed. "Maybe at the top of the list is Chief Brown. If we played tomorrow, I'd have to find a way to start him somewhere on this defense. I have seen MLB Temario Strong make big progress in the last week - the light is coming on.

"Also, I think a lot of our ones have made good strides this spring. We certainly did not want C.J. Johnson to get hurt, but the flip side is that Carlos Thompson got valuable reps and he has improved quite a bit as well. Our kids have a determination to get better and that's what it is going to take for us to get where we want to be."

One player who Wommack is waiting for the light to come completely on is DE Channing Ward.

"I think he still thinks too much. He has not really cut it loose yet. I think he will get better and become more aggressive in time, but we need him to come on," Wommack closed.

Practice resumes Monday at 8 a.m.

Offense or defense Monday?

Sometimes the bus, sometimes the jaywalker.

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