Coming Out On Top

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack and Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner could not have been happier with the 39-35 victory over Vanderbilt Thursday night in Nashville, but. . .

"I thought we came back and made some very good adjustments at halftime, but we did not play well in the second quarter and we just did some awful things on their last score," said Wommack. "Fourth-and-18 and we let them convert, and then we let them score on the very next play. That can't happen. It just can't. No excuses."

Vandy ran a counter play to the weak side in the second quarter that gave the Rebels fits.

Consequently, they scored 21 unanswered points, gained the momentum of the game and went prancing into halftime with a 21-10 advantage.

"We changed up some things on the weak side. We were taking bad angles a lot too, which was disheartening. We got some of that corrected at halftime," Wommack noted. "The hitch screen in the first half that went for a score for them was just an awful play on our part.

"The bottom line is that we were very fortunate to come out of this thing with a win. Besides the win, the good thing that comes out of this is that everything we did is correctable and we can play so much better defense than we did tonight."

Wommack was taken by surprise with the defensive performance.

"I thought we were ready to play. I guess we were just too anxious until we settled them down at halftime. We were out of control some tonight, not from missed assignments but from poor angles," he explained. "It surprised me, but I think we did a nice job of settling them down at halftime.

"Needless to say, all our guys need a lot of work to get it right, but we needed this - provided we left with a win. Everything we did wrong is correctable."

Dave said there was some irony in the game.

"A guy who rarely makes a mistake (Cody Prewitt) gave up the 4th-and-18 after playing a good, solid game to that point," Dave said, shaking his head. "But then he comes right back and has a game-ending interception. Crazy game."

Jeff Scott
Bruce Newman

Back to the drawing board.

"We'll analyze this game thoroughly and the kids will learn from it. I have no doubts about that, and it's always easier to teach off a win than it is to teach off a loss," Wommack stated. "I am so happy for this team. All the record says is 1-0. We'll take it, but we know we will have to do better, and we will."

Werner said the key for the offense was to change some protections at halftime and stay ahead of the chains, unlike the first half, when the Rebs had too many third-and-longs and gave up four QB sacks.

"Once we got our protections straightened out at halftime, we were able to stay on schedule and that's the whole key," he said. "We were able to play our game. We had a controlled passing game that worked well and we were able to run the ball enough to keep their defense honest."

Dan was proud of the way his QB, Bo Wallace, took care of the ball and ran the offense.

"This was the kind of game we need him to play. He was smart with the ball, he took what the defense gave him, he was smart running the ball. He just controlled everything once we got on the same page at intermission," noted Werner.

The play of the game, obviously, was Jeff Scott's 75-yard TD run with 1:07 to go in the game.

Great run and great call by the coaches.

"They were set up to stop the pass and we figured a run would get us 10-15 yards. We knew it was a good play, but we didn't know it was a 75-yarder. Credit Jeff for that," Werner said. "What a great run."

Werner was also very pleased with the production of WR Laquon Treadwell and TE Evan Engram.

"Laquon had nine catches. Evan had five. That is 14 catches on national TV in an SEC game from guys who were playing high school football a year ago. Amazing. Huge. Big time," he said. "And then Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson being pressed into duty and doing a terrific job. At the end, we have four true freshmen on the field and, overall, we scored 39 points and they were a big part of that production."

Werner said it was important to settle the players down at halftime to get their points across.

"We were calm with them and I think that calmed them down a lot," he added. "We just took the approach of business-as-usual and I could tell they were more focused after half.

"We knew, with a couple of easy adjustments, what we were doing would work if the players settled down. In the first half, Vandy didn't do much, but they were whipping us until we made those minor changes. The kids believed what we told them and took it out on the field in the second half. We scored 29 points in the second half against a really good defensive football team."

Werner's final thought looked to the future.

"A win like this can do wonders for us if we build off of it," he closed. "We made mistakes, but we didn't panic and we corrected most of our mistakes at halftime.

"I think, as an offense, we can gain confidence from this game."

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