There are a couple of definitions of "execute." From a football standpoint, both took place in Austin, Texas, last Saturday when the Ole Miss Rebels took the Texas Longhorns to the proverbial woodshed.

After falling behind 23-17 at halftime, the Ole Miss defense executed, i.e, created in accordance with a prescribed design, and effectively executed, i.e., put to death, Texas Coach Mack Brown's program.

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack was as pleased as he could be with the second-half execution of his troops.

"Other than one or two snaps, all the guys were in the right place. We played hard and physical. I was proud of them. It came together in that half," said Wommack. "In the first half we had some guys fit the wrong gaps.

"We still struggle a little bit when we get into our two-deep with guys executing their assignments. It's pretty important for us to stay healthy with our ones as we bring our twos along."

Bringing along the twos is one reason open weeks are so important.

"We got back to basics and fundamentals during the open week. During a game week, it's hard to get enough time on those areas, so you go back during an open week for a refresher course," Wommack explained. "We work our fits, our techniques. It's good work."

Wommack is also trying to develop some depth at certain positions. Thus, the experiment with Cody Core at safety and Derrick Jones to cornerback.

"We won't shy away from trying kids at different positions if we think they have a chance and think they can help our depth. Cody is one of those. He's a very good athlete and he's caught on pretty quickly at safety," he noted. "Derrick is an excellent athlete. If he can play corner, that would be really helpful to the defense because we would have a bigger, rangier guy there. I'm anxious to see his development at corner. In just a few days, he's shown me some things that give me hope. He's starting to pick it up."

Cody Core
Chuck Rounsaville

Back to Texas, much has been made of the halftime adjustments made versus the Longhorns, on both sides of the ball. It's warranted, but Wommack would like to see his guys become experienced enough to be able to handle adjustments while the game is being played.

"We have some guys who can do that, but with a lot of our players, we have to look them in the eye and give them time to absorb what we are saying and answer the questions that arise," he noted. "It's always been a dilemma of mine - do I come out of the booth and get on the field or do I go where I can see everything and get a better view of the game? The booth is where I belong, but there are times I wish I was on the field too.

"Our guys (coaches) on the sidelines do a great job relaying things and coming up with different ideas in the heat of the action, but sometimes you just have to sit some players down in the locker room at halftime to get your point across."

The short answer is that it comes down to reps.

"It takes hundreds of reps to get some stuff down pat," Wommack said. "With some of our players, they have not reached that threshold yet. That's just where we are as a defense, overall."

Wommack gave two examples of what he is referring to, and used the term "cutting loose" to explain it.

"Last year, until right at the end, two of our main defensive tackles - Carlton Martin and Woody Hamilton - were doing their best, but they just didn't know enough to cut loose and play. They were understandably tentative and that made them play soft," he stated. "At the end of last year, the light came on for both of them and they started cutting loose.

"There is a huge difference in both of them this year and the reason why is because they understand what Chris Kiffin is teaching them and feel relaxed and confident. We have to get more players like that, then they won't be making as many mistakes and there won't be as much need for as many adjustments and coaching points at halftime."

Wommack intimated you could put on a tape of any Nick Saban Alabama team and see basically what the Rebels will be facing next Saturday.

"I see the same thing I always see when I watch Alabama - great running backs, a quarterback who makes very few mistakes, tight ends who can run, very good wideouts, the whole package," he said. "They are very well-coached and very talented.

"With A.J. McCarron being a senior, they seem to trust him more to go downfield more. As I said, they have good receivers, so they feel comfortable taking some shots. I know this - they were very impressive against Texas A&M on offense. Very impressive."

The hope is the Rebel defense will continue to execute at a high level like they did against Texas in the second half.

It will be required against the Tide.

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