The Feeling

Alabama's high-powered offense only scored seven points in the first half against the Rebel defense. Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator had a feeling that would continue in the second half. It didn't - it got better in the Rebs' 23-17 win over the #3-ranked Tide.

Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack had a feeling, a feeling of faith, in his defensive unit heading into the Alabama game.

"I know what these guys are made of. I know how badly they want to win and how hard they have worked to be a good unit," Wommack said. "I can't say I was expecting them to hold this Alabama team to 10 points (the Reb offense gave up the other points), but I did expect them to give us a chance to win the game and to keep us in it and to fight to the end."

Dave's feeling played out, from start to finish.

The Rebels did what they have done all year - at times they bent a little, but they did not break. They gave up one TD - credit Alabama.

"I am very proud of them, obviously. This program has come so far, it's amazing. It takes the administration, a great head coach, a solid staff and players who believe," he continued. "We have players who believe. We have players who have paid the price. We have players who want to win.

"We have players who don't get down on themselves. We were down 14-3 at halftime and they were calm. They were phenomenal. They went right back out there and played like they were ahead 21 points. They never got discouraged."

Dave did not get "tricky" all night.

"I really thought our defensive line was better than their offensive line, so we did not try to do anything fancy. We went with a four-man front most of the night," he explained. "We mixed some coverages and came out on top with that gameplan.

"I have got to tell you, when you have the run game Bama does and the receivers, especially Amari Cooper, they have, it's difficult to stop them cold, but we did a decent job of not letting those big backs get too much of a head of steam and we held Cooper in check until right at the end when broke a tackle and got free on us."

Even at the end, when Cooper put the Tide in striking distance, the Rebels came out on top - compliments of a spectacular interception in the back of the end zone by Reb CB Senquez Golson.

"They called him out at first, but after I saw the replay, I knew he was in and I knew the game was over. We had a safety underneath and Senquez on top. He made a great play," Dave said.

There were a couple of times it looked as if the Tide was trying to impose their will on the Rebel defense - when they scored their only offensive TD and then their second-half field goal.

"They had a little scheme that was working that we adjusted at half, but then they never ran that play again, which surprised me," Dave noted. "But the bottom line is that they are Alabama. At times, they are going to impose their will on anyone, especially when we were having to double Cooper as much as we were.

"You just have to weather the storm and minimize the damage. Those things are going to happen. Where we came through is where we have been coming through all year to this point - we kept them off the scoreboard. I will take holding them to 10 offensive points every year from here on out."

Bama did manage 396 yards of total offense and did rush for 168 yards, but they could not deliver the fatal blow.

"We have enough experience and maturity to rise up when challenges are presented and that is what happened tonight. These kids believe in what we are doing and they play for each other, not themselves," he added. "It's fun seeing this right now."

Why right now? Because it certainly wasn't like this 2 1/2 years ago.

"The first time I saw our defense practice our first spring, I almost threw up - literally," Dave stated. "That's the truth. Cody Prewitt was out with injury and we just didn't have the talent in here to compete.

"Slowly, but surely, they started coming around, we started adding pieces to the puzzle with recruiting and the guys started believing. Lou Holtz always said you either don't want to, you don't care or you can't. We have guys who want to, who care and who can."

Husky Tony Conner led the Rebels with 10 tackles. Safeties Trae Elston and Prewitt had 9 and 8, respectively. DT Bryon Bennett had 6 stops and the lone sack of Alabama QB Blake Sims. Golson had the interception for the Rebs to essentially end the last threat and the game.

As good as Wommack's defense has played to this point, he still does not think the Rebels are "home free."

"Man, we've got so many more challenges facing us and several more different styles of play. We've got a lot more to do, but so far, we are on the right path and I hope we will stay there," he closed. "This was a great night, but we are still building this program.

"We were able to play a lot of kids up front and at linebacker again, but we have suddenly gotten thin on the back end. We have got to stay healthy. And we have to keep grinding."

He had a feeling.

He hopes the feeling remains.


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