Coordinators Claim Progress

Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack and Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner both had some positive things to say about spring training after the modified Grove Bowl Saturday.

Werner's impressions of the Grove Bowl were mixed.

"Early in the workout I was happy with the way we were protecting the football and moving it, but it bothered me we weren't putting it in the end zone," he said. "Then later on, we got very sloppy and lost focus, the QBs especially.

"Throughout the spring, however, I was very pleased with the effort and I thought we made excellent strides in a lot of areas. I think we are right where we need to be. I just wish we had finished it off a little better than we did and we had stayed healthier in spring than we did."

One goal of the offense was the play faster than a year ago.

"I think we retained the offense well and our players like to play fast now, so we are in good shape there. We just need to get the refs to set the ball quickly and we are good to go. We do, however, have to execute better than we did this spring overall," Werner noted.

Werner said he is very pleased with the progress of the stable of running backs the Rebs have started accumulating.

"We don't have a depth issue there. They have done a really good job. We have choices there," he explained. "At tight end, we were hoping someone would step up, but we are still looking for that guy who will take control of the position.

"I wanted the QBs to compete hard and they did. They were just inconsistent. One would do well one day and drop off the next and vice-versa. I will study all the film and determine who is actually in the lead right now. I was very pleased with the guys who filled in for the injured players. They got valuable reps this spring and will be able to help us if one of the regulars goes down in fall."

I'Tavius Mathers
Cain Madden

RB I'Tavius Mathers was recognized for the spring he had at halftime of the Grove Bowl.

"He was our most improved player. Rarely does the first guy get him on the ground. It's nice to know that if we give him the ball, he is going to get positive yardage. That's what we are all about, it's crucial to stay on schedule," he stated. "I was also impressed with Mark Dodson. he has speed, vision and he did some really good things considering he's still supposed to be a high school senior."

When spring began, Werner said he was looking for depth at wide receiver. Did he find some?

"I believe Cody Core can help us. Cody can be really good - he's big, strong, fast and he stepped up. He had a couple of nice plays today," Werner added.

Werner mentioned Bo Wallace's rehab.

"He's our guy. He can start lightly tossing the ball in three weeks and hopefully by time for seven-on-seven on their own this summer, he will be throwing again," Werner commented.

Wommack saw good things as well this spring from the defensive side of the ball.

"Considering the guys we have out injury-wise, we made good improvement this spring," said Wommack. "There are obvious spots we have to continue to improve in some areas, but we will.

"They've done a good job of learning the scheme. We aren't all the way to having a two-deep like we wanted to have, but we are closer. Our guys are getting better."

Wommack believes linebacker is the defensive strength right now.

"That's a great room in terms of leadership and the number of players in there we trust," he stated. "Mike Marry is solid and a great leader. D.T. Shackelford is an excellent leader who we plan to use at MLB and DE, but we did not install the defensive end part this spring.

"Denzel Nkemdiche goes and goes and goes and is excellent. Serderius Bryant is very solid. Temario Strong really improved a lot late in spring and Keith Lewis is doing a good job as well. That's six guys, which allows us to go into the 4-3 easier. We spent three or four days on that this spring, which we did not last spring. We got ahead on some of that stuff and I feel our linebackers are the nucleus and leadership of our defense."

Serderius Bryant
Cain Madden

The area of concern? It was and still is cornerback.

"We need to improve our depth there. I like some of those guys, but sometimes it seems they get distracted. We put a lot of stress on them at times in our scheme," said Wommack. "Jason Jones does a great job. Fundamentally we have gotten better there in spring, but I want to see us develop more depth."

Up front, injuries hurt their development.

"When you lose C.J. Johnson and Issac Gross and Carlton Martin misses time, it hurts. Ideally, I want five defensive ends and five inside guys so we can keep them fresh," he noted. "Channing Ward has helped himself some and closed strong, I felt. Carlos Thompson made himself viable this spring too."

Wommack's spring surprises?

"Chief Brown made a huge jump. I am so pleased with him. Woody Hamilton surprised for sure. Carlos Thompson comes to mind too and Carlos Davis really had a fine spring and I think he will help us in the fall," he closed.

OM Spirit Top Stories