Not Fooled

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack gets it that the Texas defense was lit up by BYU, but that's not his concern. The Longhorn offense is his worry and he knows they can be potent.

"They gained 700-plus yards in their opener and nearly 450 in their loss to BYU," said Wommack. "They have three excellent backs and a bunch of wideouots who can run.

"They are well-coached and balanced. We won't be able to overload to stop the run because they can beat you up top as well."

He expects the Longhorns to keep doing what they have been doing - with close to a 50-50 pass-run mix.

"We have to prepare for both. Last year they got over 300 yards passing and over 300 rushing," Wommack explained. "They are a big vertical passing team. They like to take their shots downfield and they have guys who can run and get behind you if you aren't real careful and aware of that.

"One of the things we have focused on this year is not giving up the big play and we will certainly keep working on that. Texas is capable of the big play. We have some packages in to get some pressure and we will use them."

What is Womamck's approach concerning Texas QB David Ash, who suffered a concussion in the BYU game?

"We have to approach it as if he is going to play. We have to prepare for him, then move to the second guy and then the third guy," Wommack stated. "Their third guy is more of a threat to run and we will have to have a package prepared for that if Ash doesn't play because they might get to him in their rotation.

"But there's only so much you can prepare for in four days. We will do as much as we can, but we have to be careful not to overload our guys with too many what-ifs."

Dave Wommack
Chuck Rounsaville

Wommack doesn't like reliving, but he will, the game with Texas last year, a shelling by the Longhorns that decimated his defense in what he has called "the worst game of my career."

"It was so disappointing. It was almost a perfect storm. We were 2-0 but we weren't very good yet. Our guys were probably thinking they were a little better than they were," he noted. "They wanted to take it to an SEC team. We were not sharp at all.

"The good thing is that game changed our season. We were all embarrassed. We all watched it together afterwards and the players could see if they did what we told them to do we could play good defense. We shut out Tulane the next week and then went to Alabama and played, overall, good defense against the number one team in America. That Texas game was hard to take, hard to swallow, but it made a difference for us last year."

Based on what has transpired in a year, however, Wommack is putting last year's game with Texas in the "ancient history" file.

This year is a different year, so through two games, where does Wommack feel the Rebel defense is in its development as this first of five straight big games approaches?

"I was disappointed with three plays in the Vanderbilt game - the hitch screen that went down the sidelines for a TD and the two late plays that led to their last TD. If you take those away, we played OK. Vandy is a pretty good offense and early in the season you are going to make a mistake here and there," he assessed. "Last week, against SEMO, it is hard to tell because we played an option team and we didn't get to run all the pressures and things we like to do here in our system because you have to defend the option and your safety has to run the alley.

"Overall, I wish I could take away four or five plays. Other than that, I think our kids have come along nicely."

Wommack was asked to put himself in the shoes of the Longhorns' defensive coaches, with new DC Greg Robinson.

"I've never been in that position before, but I know this - you only have a certain amount of time and you can only change so much in the time allotted. Also, our offense is a hard offense to get ready for," he noted. "It's a tough position to be in, I would imagine, to try to figure out how much you can install while still giving your players enough time to rep it and get it right before the game."

But, again, Texas' defense is not Wommack's cross to bear - the Longhorn offense is.

"We will have our hands full, for sure," he closed. "We will have to play sound, fundamental, mistake-free football. We will have to execute very well. That's the bottom line, as it is in every game. Hopefully, we are ready to do that."

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