Last season, Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack didn't feel like he had the personnel to go with the style he prefers the most - and attacking, aggressive defense - as much as he wanted to. Will 2014 be different? Spring training will determine a lot of the verdict.

It's only a few days into spring training, but already Rebel DC Dave Wommack believes he can get back to his preferred "style" of play - to attack.

"So far this spring, we haven't had a couple of our better corners (Senquez Golson and Derrick Jones) out there, but when they come back, I feel we can be more of an attacking defense," Wommack stated. "Don't chisel it in stone just yet, but the way our pass rush is coming along, I think we will be able be a more aggressive defense, which is what I want, for sure."

Wommack pointed quickly to some of the personnel - new and veteran - on the front four as reason for his encouragement.

"We are different when we get C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson rolling. They are good edge guys who were missing from the equation last year, as you know," he continued. "I like what I have seen of Marquis Haynes as well. He's going to help us off the edge.

"When you throw Robert Nkemdiche and Issac Gross, both good pass rushers from the inside, and Fadol Brown, who will be better in pass rush than we have had from the Bandit position, I think we will be able to generate more pass rush from our front four and when you can do that, you don't have to pressure with extra people as much. Fadol is big, strong and real athletic. He has all the tools I think we need at Bandit and I expect Coach (Chris) Kiffin to take him to another level."

Dave Wommack
Chuck Rounsaville

In the early going, although they are mentally "swimming," Wommack is pleased with his newcomers - FS C.J. Hampton, playing behind All-American Cody Prewitt; MLB Chrisitan Russell, battling with Deterrian Shackelford and Temario Strong; and Haynes, who is behind C.J and Carlos.

"I'm really happy with C.J. He's making mistakes because he's had, what, two or three college practices, but he understands what we are doing when we draw it up on the board. When it's moving fast right now, he doesn't get it sometimes, but he will," said Wommack. "Christian is a very good athlete, probably the best we've had at that position since I have been here. Again, there's a lot going on with him mentally. There are things he has to pick up checks-wise, but I love the way he is working at it and he's football smart. He'll get it.

"Marquis adds speed to our defense and he's a lot stronger than people think at 220-something pounds. We can do some things with him quickly because he is very difficult to block one-on-one."

One player Wommack has been gushing about for a full calendar year now is Rover Anthony Alford, who is locked in a battle with incumbent Trae Elston.

After sitting out a year due to the transfer rule, Alford is now eligible.

"He knows what we are doing back there now and has a real burst back there. Anthony probably has the best burst of anyone we have at the safety positions," Wommack noted. "I said last year and I'll say it again, Anthony Alford will be a big part of our defense."

Wommack also discussed the move of Chief Brown from safety to Husky.

"With Trae and Anthony at SS, Cody and C.J. at FS and Tony Conner and Chief at Husky, we feel we will be a solid two-deep at all three of those positions," noted Wommack. "I feel good about all of them."

Another young player who is making a good impression is walk-on OLB Taylor Polk, a redshirt freshman.

"I'm excited about that young man," Wommack stated. "He's tough, he's physical, he can move, he's smart and he's active.

"He's at a crowded position and isn't getting many reps right now, but I think he has a really good future here and should be a key special teams player immediately."

Handcuffed may not be the right word for what Wommack felt last year, but he certainly had to think out of his comfort zone to field a competitive defense.

If good health and normal development stay on his side, he believes he can get back to doing what he does best - attack.

"We've got seven new guys out here this spring that we didn't have last fall and that gives us a different look, from an ability standpoint and depth standpoint," Wommack closed. "And we've got a couple of more on the way this summer.

"Like I said, don't hold my feet to the fire just yet, but the early signs are that we will be able to be more aggressive next year and be more effective with our aggression."

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