Getting It Right

After a sterling first quarter against Texas Saturday night, things went a little haywire for the Rebels in the second quarter, but when the Rebel coaches were able to get to the locker room and "get some things right," Ole Miss left Texas in its wake.

For a quarter Saturday night, it looked as if the Ole Miss offense was going to score 60 on the Texas Longhorn defense.

Then, it looked like the 14 they got in that first stanza may be all they'd get after only being able to tack on a last-second, 52-yard field goal by Andrew Ritter in the second frame.

Then, in the second half, it was back to the first quarter mode - almost scoring at will, or so it seemed, as the Rebs buried Texas 44-23 with 30 unanswered points, counting the late FG.

"In the second quarter, we called a couple of plays where we were thinking about taking some deep shots, maybe got a little greedy after our early success," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "When those didn't work, we were faced with second and third and longs, which is not what we want, or any offense wants.

"At halftime, we talked as an offensive staff and decided to just go back to what we were doing in the first quarter. That's what we do - and we did it well in the second half."

Werner said it may have been a combination of over-thinking the situation and surprise that Texas did not adjust to stop the read option play, with the "give" to TB Jeff Scott being the most effective part of the option package.

"We were really expecting them to take the give to Jeff away, and they tried a couple of times, but then Bo (Wallace) made good reads and kept for nice gains or he threw off his read for some success," Werner continued. "The bottom line is that we just got away from what we were doing in the first quarter a little bit and it cost us our offensive momentum.

"We felt comfortable we could go back to what we were doing and have success, but, like I said, we got a little greedy and went for the kill shot too early probably."

Jeff Scott
USA TODAY images

Werner said the offensive staff spent all week worrying about what new UT DC Greg Robinson was going to do differently, but in the end, "it wasn't much."

"They put in a little blitz package that hurt us once, but we got that adjusted and coverage-wise, they kept it simple," he noted. "It looked like their philosophy with the change was to keep it simple and get back to the basics of blocking and tackling and fitting right.

"We were getting Jeff on the edge and when we get him on the edge with the way our wide receivers were blocking tonight and he's tough to catch and bring down. Our wideouts really sprung him a lot tonight - they deserve a lot of credit."

Werner, obviously, was very pleased with the outcome.

"Bo continues to make good decisions - still no interceptions this year, knock on wood, and as long as he will do that, we have a chance," he stated. "I don't mean to put it all on him, there are 10 other guys out there too, but good decision-making and taking care of the ball, as you can see, are critical to our success and that's mainly on Bo.

"I'm so pleased with the way the wideouts are catching the ball and the backs are protecting the ball. The only turnover we have this year was tonight when the ball slipped out of Bo's hand trying to pass, which is a freaky thing. And I can't tell you how good a job Matt Luke is doing with the offensive line because two or three of our main guys are either out or gimpy. Great job up front."

What does the win mean?

"We are 3-0, the guys have bought in and they are having fun. Games like this are why we are in this profession," he closed. "Even at halftime when we were down 6, there was no panic on anyone's face, from our head coach to the managers.

"But as Coach Freeze said postgame, this is just one win. We have to keep moving forward and keep getting better."

The defensive effort mirrored what the offense did.

Great start, a second quarter tailspin and then a shutout in the second half.

There were reasons, Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack said.

"We were losing our fits up front for a brief period when they scored a couple of times. Our young kids just didn't seem to understand during the heat of the game what we wanted them to do on the bounce play and then we had to get the secondary adjusted on the bubble screen," Wommack noted.

It took a sit down session at halftime.

"With veterans, you can adjust most things on the fly, but with young kids, you have to sit them down and look them in the eye and give them a chance to absorb what you are telling them," he continued. "Once we were able to do that, we were in good shape the second half.

Bryon Bennett
Associated Press

"(DL Coach) Chris (Kiffin) made some good adjustments up front, we got the secondary situated a little better to what they were doing and the second half was a defensive performance we are looking for every week."

Wommack said he felt his initial plan was good, but Texas tweaked some things that threw the Rebs off for a brief period of time.

Even a little confused, the Rebs were able to hold the Longhorns to three field goals in the Red Zone in that stanza.

"It was important that we did not let them score TDs there. The score was 23-17 at half, but had we not done some good things defensively in the Red Zone, it could have been quite a bit worse," he explained.

In the second half, Texas was held to exactly 100 yards of total offense and no points, an effort Wommack can live with for sure.

"I was very proud of the way the kids paid attention and did not panic at half. They trusted what we told them and executed the way we asked them to. The result was a terrific half of defensive football," he closed.

The Rebs had a second-quarter hiccup - again - but once they "got it right," the Longhorns were in the rearview mirror.

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