Wommack: Stop the Run

No matter what schemes and razzle-dazzle offensive coaches come up with, most defensive coaches still go back to the tried-and-true. Stop the run, win the game. Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack will focus on stopping the Vanderbilt run game Thursday.

"It rarely changes," said Wommack about the Ole Miss-Vandy game this Thursday. "There are exceptions to the rule, but as long as I have been in coaching - over 30 years, it's still about stopping the run.

"I know Vanderbilt will be trying to run the ball and will be trying to stop our run. It's just the nuts-and-bolts of football. We'll have to pick and choose when we load the box and hopefully we will pick the right times."

Wommack said he respects the Vandy offense, but in particular RB Wesley Tate, QB Austyn Carta-Samuels and Wide Receivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd, if he plays.

"Carta-Samuels looks to run the football more than their guy last year, which creates problems for you. We have designed some things especially for him," said Dave. "Their offensive line is anchored by Wesley Johnson, who is a real, real good player with lots of experience, but from a skill standpoint, you have to be concerned with Carta-Samuels, #24 (Tate), #80 (Boyd) and, of course, #87 (Matthews).

"They are very talented players who have produced in the past and will have to be dealt with."

Wommack has been pleased with the progress of the defense since spring and through fall camp.

"It's been good. I think out kids have a good grasp on what we are trying to do. We have been able to refine some things and have become a little more multiple than we were last year," he noted. "We have a little more depth in some areas. Some areas we don't have enough depth, but that is the process Coach Freeze has talked about since he has been here.

"We are closer to having a rotation like we want at some places - defensive line and linebacker for sure. The secondary is not as two-deep as we would like it to be."

Wommack said he's got seven defensive ends who are ready, including D.T. Shackelford, who can play DE or linebacker, but that startling revelation was overshadowed quickly when talk turned to freshman standout Robert Nkemdiche.


Robert Nkemdiche
File Photo

"He's a freshman, but he is massive and is doing a great job learning. We've had some issues with him jumping offsides, but you'd rather have that than one who just sits back. He's eager to play," Wommack explained. "I am very excited about him. He's very special and is as advertised. Certainly, we are a little concerned about his lack of experience, but his mass as a man, his strength and his speed will allow him to overcome some of those things. You can't single block him - I don't care who you are and he can create havoc.

"Also, I think C.J. (Johnson) will fall in love with him as the season rolls along because offenses won't be able to load up on him because Robert can create damage on the other side."

Health was an issue early in camp and some of it continues to the present.

"I think C.J. is very close. I think both corners - Charles Sawyer and Senquez Golson - will be back. Issac Gross is ready to go," noted Dave. "Those were our main concerns from a health standpoint and they seem to be clearing up somewhat."

Wommack likes the look at Huskie, where Mike Hilton and freshman Tony Connor have taken control.

"Obviously, Tony is the body we have always wanted there, but Mike does a great job playing the position correctly," said Wommack. "Both will play quite a bit. Of course, we have the same concerns with Tony as we do with Robert - no experience, but we are confident he will get in the flow of the game quickly."


Mike Marry
File Photo

Wommack considers his top three safeties as co-starters," even though there are only two safety slots.

"Cody (Prewitt), Trae (Elston) and Chief (Brown) will get about the same amount of snaps. Chief can play either position so that is a plus," Wommack stated. "I consider them all starters. Hopefully, with three, we can keep them fresher than we could last year."

Dave has a lot of confidence in his linebackers.

"They are a good group. Mike Marry and Denzel (Nkemdiche) have been real good. Serderius Bryant has had as good a camp as anyone. Keith Lewis has come a long way and the flexibility of using D.T. there will leave us in good shape there, I believe," he added.

Having said all that, it still boils down to one main thing - stop the run.

"There will be times when we have to put our corners on an island, so they will have to buckle up and get the job done, but stopping the run is priority number one," Wommack closed.

Life in the SEC - run the ball and stop the run.

Some things never change.


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