Solid Secondary

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack, the defensive staff and players had a pretty good 2013 finishing in the top half of the SEC. What's next? This is the first installment of a three-part series with Wommack.

*** The following is the first of a three-part series of an in-depth interview with Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack.

In a recent interview with Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze, he said several things about the Ole Miss defense for the 2013 season.

To put it all in the proverbial nutshell, Freeze was basically pleased with the run defense, he wanted to see improvement in third-down and pressure production and the defensive coaches, due to personnel limitations and injuries, were sometimes limited in what they could call.

Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack was in line with everything the head man said.

"Hugh is right on track," said Wommack. "When we got the right cornerbacks in place – Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton, we got on track a little bit, but we played really poorly against Vanderbilt in the opener. Getting situated with those guys made a huge difference for us.

"Later on, that was shored up even more with the addition of Derrick Jones. When we got a little better on the back end, we could call a few more things to help us."

Usually, a defensive analysis starts up front, but while Wommack was on the subject of the secondary, his lead was easy to follow.

Senquez Golson
File Photo

"I have pretty good feelings about where we are going at corner now," he continued. "Senquez is starting to become the kind of corner we believe, based on his ability, he can be. Mike is simply a solid, productive football player who can do a lot of positive things for you. When Derrick gets some more weight on him, he's going to be a millionaire corner in the NFL. He is one of the best athletes on our team, bar none. I wish I could have redshirted him, but we just couldn't.

"I also believe in Bobby Hill in the future. He, too, needs to get in the weight room. Carlos Davis has speed and he did some great things for us on special teams. I'm anxious to see him in spring training and see his development. Due to his six-game suspension last year we couldn't devote a lot of reps to him and he just got behind, but he is a talent."

Wommack couldn't discuss current recruits, by NCAA rule, but it is obvious what the Rebel game plan is at corner – to get "longer," and commitment Kendraius Webster, a 4-star recruit out of Georgia, certainly fits the goal.

"It's no secret in the future we will be going after corners with more length, like Derrick," said Wommack. "They're rare, but they're out there and we have to get our share."

At safety, the Rebels have confidence All-American Cody Prewitt will return for his senior season, although that is not a definite as this offering is being composed. Assuming he is returning, the Rebels will have Prewitt, Trae Elston and Chief Brown, all seasoned veterans, back for 2014 plus two outstanding additions – Anthony Alford and C.J. Hampton.

"Our safeties were very good in run support, but there's no question we want to get better in coverage back there. To do that, we have to keep building our athleticism. I think that is where we will benefit by having Anthony and C.J.," noted Wommack. "Don't get me wrong, Cody, Trae and Chief are good football players, but they can use help in several situations back there.

"For the first time since we've been there, we'll have competition back there. We think both Anthony and C.J. are going to be special. We'll put C.J. at Cody's slot – and there is a big learning curve there, but what a huge get for us. With him going through spring training, we expect him to help us immediately. At Rover, Alford is probably the best athlete on the team, certainly top two or three. If we decide to play him there, that really makes that position better and more athletic."

Tony Conner
File Photo

And that's not even mentioning, because he can't, Calvin Moore, a speedy commit, if safety is where the Baassfield product lands when he gets to Ole Miss. As versatile as he is, he could be a corner, a safety or a Husky.

At Husky, Wommack could not be more pleased with rising sophomore Tony Conner, who started every game and got better and better as the year went on.

"For Tony to come in and do what he did was remarkable," said Wommack. "We couldn't have asked for any more and I expect him to just get better and better as he gains more experience and continues to have success in our offseason program under Paul (Jackson). With Dehendret Collins gone, we have to find him a good backup and create some competition there. We have to have at least two at Husky we can trust."

Spitballing, one of the safeties, a recruit like Alvin Moore, penciled in as an LB but with plenty of speed, or a fast current linebacker could slide to Husky and compete for the job with Conner. There are options, but it is not yet known which direction the defensive coaches will go yet. Suffice it to say starting with Conner makes all those decisions much easier.

Next: Wommack discusses the linebackers and defensive ends.

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