Even though there are similarities in playing a 3-technique (defensive tackle) and Bandit (defensive end) in Rebel DC Dave Wommack's system, it's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but Bryon Bennett did it almost seamlessly.

"When C.J. Johnson, Carlos Thompson and Robert Nkemdiche went down to injury, we were really struggling at defensive end," noted Wommack. "We had to come up with some kind of plan."

Enter Bennett, who switched over from defensive tackle the week of the LSU game and has been there - productively - since.

"You have to be a pretty good athlete, plus you have to be sharp enough mentally to grasp the different assignments and responsibilities in a hurry," Wommack stated. "Bryon is very athletic and he's sharp enough to absorb what we were asking him to do."

The coaches had to be smart with the move and relate to Bryon how similar the techniques are, but, in the end, the change was not easy.

"We certainly have not given him the whole defense - we have limited what we have asked him to do," Wommack continued. "And the techniques are similar, but you still have to be smart and willing to make it work."

For Bennett's part, the move suited him just fine.

"It's exciting on the edge. There's more room to operate and move around out there and you don't see as many double teams that take you out of plays," said the 290-pound junior. "You have to maintain your outside presence and work to keep the quarterback in the pocket.

"Also, at tackle, you make one step, basically, and make your move. At end, you may go three or four steps before you make a move to beat your man."

Bryon Bennett
File Photo

Bennett said the change was made easier during the practices leading up to the LSU game by how good the Rebel offensive tackles are.

"Our guys are good pass setters. Laremy Tunsil, Pierce Burton and E-Man (Emmanuel McCray) will work you hard in practice and you have to be on your game to beat them," he stated. "I give them a lot of credit for helping me make the move because they gave me such great looks to go against.

"Our OL has really come on since the Auburn game and I can tell by their attitude and effort in practice. There's a lot of competition between the OL and DL in practice now and it's helping all of us get better."

Bennett doesn't know what to expect when Robert Nkemdiche comes back healthy, nor is he too worried about it one way or the other.

"I expect to have a few plays outside and some things at DT, but it really doesn't matter. I just want to play," he noted. "I feel I've made a case to play either or both. I'll let the coaches decide where I'm going to help the team the most."

Bennett, like just about all Rebel players express, has mixed emotions about where the Rebels - 5-3 - are right now.

"In some respects, I'm happy where we are after everything we have been through, but in some respects I think we could have played better in a couple of games and maybe have even a better record," Bennett stated. "The main thing is that the team is still excited because we still have a lot to play for.

"Could have been better, could have been worse. All I know is that we are fighting and doing everything in our power to notch more wins. We all know the truth - that we are capable of winning the rest of our games, but if we don't play with passion and energy and carry out our assignments, we can lose them too. It's all up to us. Everybody we play can beat us and we have to play our best to win."

Bennett refuses to let himself look ahead beyond the next game when asked about the next four games being considered "winnable."

"I keep my sights focused on the next game. It's Arkansas, it's at home. Hopefully we can get a win and then move to the next one," he added. "We are in a good position to have a real fine season, but we have to finish it and take care of business one game at a time.

"It will all be about our attitude, approach, doing the little things right and carrying out our assignments. The coaches will give us a good plan. It's up to us to carry it out."

And that is Bennett's intention, whether at defensive end or tackle.

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