Divine Intervention?

Divine intervention can come in many forms. For Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack, it showed up in the form of the Rebel defense shutting out LSU in the first half of last Saturday's game and then hanging on for the hard-fought victory despite missing five starters to injury/suspension.

"We played a really gutty first half by shutting LSU out. The (three) interceptions and couple of sacks we had in the first half were huge," said Wommack. "In the second half, LSU spread us out more and we had some difficulty with theirs against ours, so to speak, but the kids played hard and hung in there.

"After the game, I said it was a God thing. I still believe that. It was a God thing."

As modest as Wommack is being, the outcome obviously involved more than a helping hand from The Man upstairs.

The Rebel coaches gave the players a doable plan, the players filling in for the injured stepped up and LSU - in the early going at least - played into the Rebs' hands with their style of play.

"The first half was critical to us because it bolstered our confidence as much as anything," he said. "As many guys as we had out, and then a couple of more to get nicked up here and there, the kids kept believing that whoever was in there was going to get the job done.

"We had to move some kids around and rely on some kids who hadn't played much previously, but it all worked out in the long run."

Early in the week, with C.J. Johnson, Carlos Thompson and Robert Nkemdiche - all defensive ends - sidelined, DL Coach Chris Kiffin made the decision to slide DT Bryon Bennett to the outside.

Bryon Bennett
USA TODAY images

"He did a fine job. Bryon is athletic enough to play there if we need him and he's a smart guy who picks things up quickly," Wommack stated. "He made a few mistakes, but he did a fine job overall. Credit to him and Coach Kiffin for getting ready that quickly."

This week against Idaho, Temario Strong, who struggled in the LSU game due to a neck injury from the A&M game, appears to be healthy and is working some at the depleted DE slot.

"Temario is not a guy who is going to bull rush effectively too often, but when we cut him loose and let him go, he can create problems," noted Wommack. "We want to be able to use him like that more often and he seems to be catching on more each day. I'm excited to see him more often in that role."

Safety Cody Prewitt leads the SEC with four interceptions, including one in the Rebel end zone against LSU in the first half.

"I guess it's a coaches' perspective, but he really should have seven picks right now with the three he dropped at Texas," Wommack said. "Cody doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's so smart and he works hard. He's where he is supposed to be. He's normally a good tackler, although he struggles in space at times. He's physical.

"He loves the game and plays hard. There are things he could have done better this year, but I am excited about him."

Idaho looks like a gimme on paper, but Wommack is not taking anything for granted.

He has a history with Idaho and it's not good history.

"The last time I played Idaho, I was at Southern Mississippi in the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl. We were in the Top 10 in the nation in defense," he recalled. "We got up 21-0 and ended up losing 42-28.

"I have reminded our players of that. There are a lot of reasons our guys need to get up and get excited about this game. I understand it's a different time and different teams, but you can't take any opponent for granted these days."

The Vandals are down to their third-team quarterback, and their OL has been beaten up some, but Wommack respects Coach Paul Petrino's offense and key players.

Dave Wommack
USA TODAY images

"I have played Paul so many times and he does a great job of scheming people. He changes his pass routes up and what he does week to week," Wommack explained. "This year, he is even more multiple.

"I see some of Texas A&M's offense with the spread and the stutter read and quarterback follow stuff. I have seen them run Auburn's stuff where they get in there with three backs and run the option. They do all sorts of things. The good thing is that we have seen a lot of what they do based on who we have played, but I am sure they will have something else up their sleeves for us. I admire Paul and what he does with his offenses."

A lot of emotion was spent in the win over LSU,a nd the loss to A&M the week before, for that matter, but Wommack doesn't believe in letdowns.

"For me, there will be no letdown. I respect every opponent and am not going to let down. I haven't seen our players let down much since we have been here and I don't expect them to this week. I know we are headed to an open date where we can heal up some, but to get on a real roll like we want to, we have to take care of business this week and our guys know it's an important outing.

"If we have anyone dragging around out there, they won't be in there long. I don't care who it is, but I don't look for that to happen."

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