Won and Done

Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack said the 31-13 win over Southest Missouri was "awkward," but he was not disappointed. Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner like the first half production, but not so much in the second half when the Rebs failed to score.

Wommack was pleased with the way the Rebs handled the Red Hawk run game, and fairly pleased with the whole game his Rebel defense turned in.

If you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why.

SEMO only had 93 yards rushing and 159 passing, for a total of 252. Not a bad day's work in this age of high-octane offenses.

Plus, the Rebs did that against an offense that Wommack called "awkward" to defend.

"I don't think they have been held to under 100 yards rushing as far back as I researched," began Wommack. "I liked what we did there. It's difficult when you are dealing with an option offense to get everything right in five days of preparation, but our kids did well.

"I would have liked to have seen better pass coverage at times, but those kind of teams do that to you because you are thinking run, run, run all the time. Also, we played on a short field a lot in the second half after a couple of turnovers. I would have liked to have had a shutout, but all things considered, I'll take it."

One factor in Wommack determining his satisfaction level is the number of players he gave an extended opportunity to.

"We wanted to get some game tape on several backups and the only way to do that is let them play. Sometimes that exposes some rough edges, which it did tonight," noted Wommack. "We had some who had never played before, some of had only played a little and we were mixing and matching on the fly.

Robert Nkemdiche
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"There wasn't a lot of chemistry out there at times because some of those guys had never played with each other before. Any time in the past I have done that, it tends to get sloppy at times."

In Coach Hugh Freeze's press conference, he mentioned that he was disappointed in the fire and passion of some of the backups, who were getting an opportunity to shine and make a mark, but didn't seem as excited as he would have liked.

. . . And Wommack along those lines?

"It's different for me being in the box. I kept asking if they were excited to be playing. The bottom line is that some of them were excited and some of them got big eyes and were a little overwhelmed," he noted. "We will analyze all of it and see who is ready and who isn't. For the most part, I was happy. We made a couple of adjustments to the option on the run and the guys handled those pretty well, even some of the rookies."

Wommack said he did not see a lot of busts in the game, particularly from the secondary, where he was watching most closely.

"On one of their touchdowns, we rotated the wrong way and allowed a guy to get free, but for the most part we looked assignment sound," he stated. "We had a pretty simple gameplan, so that helped, but mentally I thought we did a nice job."

Wommack was asked about OLB Serderius Bryuant playing in place of Denzel Nkemdiche, sidelined after knee surgery last Saturday.

"He made some big plays, and that's good, but he missed a couple of tackles where he had good fits. There's probably a little rust on him, but he's a really good football player. He'll get shined up soon," Wommack commented.

Cody Core got his first action as a safety (he also played wideout and had two catches for 36 yards.

"He got a couple of series and showed potential. There was one coverage situation where I thoguht he could have gotten underneath the receiver, but for the most part he did fine," Wommack stated.

New CB Mike Hilton also got a passing grade.

"We played him off a bit because that's what you do against the option, and he handled it well. I think we had one disappointing coverage where the safety didn't get over the top and Mike didn't cover the right area of the route," said Wommack.

Bryan Bennett
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His evaluation of the defense to this point is positive with an asterisk.

"Other than five or six plays against Vandy, I thought we played well. We just gave up too many big, crucial plays at the wrong times," he assessed. "This week, it was awkward because we spent the whole week working on the option because the fits are so important to be able to stop it.

"We'll get into some real football now and get after Texas next week. We'll certainly see where we are against them. We aren't playing perfect yet, but I can't complain too much about where we are."

Ah, yes, the Longhorns. It brings back bad memories for Wommack.

"It was probably the worst game I have ever been involved in as a coach," he closed. "It's time to get ready for the big boys and make sure that doesn't happen again."

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner had no complaints either - about the first half production anyway.

"Our first five possessions, we had a field goal and four touchdowns," he said. "That's not too bad. Not to score again was a downer, but we played a lot of kids in the second half to see what they can do," he explained. "We ran the ball well in the second half, but we did not protect the ball.

"Our hope was that we would keep on executing and keep rolling with some backups in there - and we did move the ball, but we shot ourselves in the foot too often and obviously I am disappointed with that."

Is it as simple as Bo Wallace or no Bo Wallace at QB being the difference?

"I had hoped that wasn't the case, but it looked that way today. Again, we did move the ball, but we made critical drive-killing mistakes," said Werner. "Barry (Brunetti) ran the ball really well, he gained over 100 yards, but some of his passing decisions were late and he had a couple of fumbles."

Freeze said he was "very, very close" to putting in one of the freshmen QBs. What about Werner?

"That is a head coach's decision. He'll have to answer that," noted Werner. "We didn't talk about it, but I know he was getting antsy to try one of them."

The Rebel OL went without injured Aaron Morris. Jared Duke took his spot at left guard in the starting lineup and the Rebs also played the two freshmen - RG Austin Golson and LT Laremy Tunsil - the whole second half.

Bo Wallace
Bruce Newman

"I thought the offensive line did a really good job, with every combination we used. The OL was not an issue tonight, in my mind," he stated.

Werner also had a good taste in his mouth about the production of sophomore RBs I'tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.

"I'Tavius had a couple of really good runs where it looked like he was going to get trapped in the backfield and broke free for big runs," said Werner. "Jaylen did a nice job too."

And, for the second week in a row, Werner was impressed with freshman TE Evan Engram, who had a 64-yard TD reception against SEMO.

"We had him in camp and he lit it up. He was undersized, but we decided to go on him anyway. I am really glad we did," Werner said. "We never felt he would come in here and be the player he is this fast, but he's a big-time player.

"He's going to be a player for us for a long time. In our camp, he ran a 4.5 40, so we thought, even if he doesn't grow, he can be as pretty good wideout with a lot of size."

So where is the offense now as murderer's row - first up Texas - approaches?

"We are averaging 35 points a game and right at 500 yards a game, so I can't complain. If we keep going in this direction, I feel good about where we are," he closed. "I think our starters are very confident right now.

"I think we are light years ahead of where we were last year at this time because our kids understand tempo and Bo understands the offense. His decision-making is much better. We are way ahead of where we were last year at this time, in my opinion. We'll see if we can keep it rolling."

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