Taking Care Of Business

COLLEGE STATION, TX - With each win by this upstart Ole Miss football team, now 6-0 after a thorough win over Texas A&M, the Rebel coordinators appreciate more and more the approach this team is showing in getting ready for games and the execution of the gameplans when the contests roll around. It's called maturity and it's also a sign of doing what the coaches preach often - "win the day."

All week long leading up to the Ole Miss-Texas A&M game, the coaches talked about the players not appearing to have a "hangover" from the Alabama win.

They discussed openly, confidently and candidly how the team had "trashed" the Alabama game and were focused on the Aggies and getting ready for the largest crowd in SEC and Texas history.

It was almost as if they knew the Rebels - now 6-0 after beating Texas A&M 35-20 - would not let that big win go to their heads and distract them from their mission.

They were right.

Exhibiting calm and maturity, the Rebels came out strong, gaining a 21-0 lead and then coasted to one-sided win not as close as the score might indicate.

"The quick start was huge. The defense played great and we took advantage of some things for a good road win in the SEC. After we drove 99 yards for a score, we felt pretty good," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "We lost our rhythm a little bit in the second half because we didn't want to make any big mistakes with the lead we had, but when we needed to make a play and turn it up, we did."

Werner was referring to the moment when Texas A&M scored in the third quarter to make it 21-7 in favor of the Rebs, who held a 21-0 halftime margin.

"We put together a nice drive on that possession and kind of dinked the ball down the field," he noted. "The Aggies were playing us tighter on the short stuff so we decided to go long and Bo (Wallace) threw a perfect strike to Quincy (Adeboyejo) for a 33-yard score. The way our defense was playing, we figured we had things under control then and just called safe plays from then on. That was huge.

"We just didn't want to do anything stupid with that kind of lead in this environment. You don't want to do anything to give them momentum or get the crowd back in it, but that's really not our game, to slow things down and play conservative, so we didn't make a lot happen after that."

Once again, Werner was pleased with Wallace's play from a technical standpoint.

"13-19 for 178 yards and a TD throwing the ball and 50 yards rushing the ball aren't eye-popping stats, but he made the plays we needed him to make and ran the offense exactly like we told him to," Dan continued. "These kids are showing a lot of maturity right now.

"Coach Freeze did not allow anyone to rest after last week's big win. He said trash it and everyone, the assistant coaches and the players, did just that. He led us to this and the players were mature enough to follow his lead."

Werner said he is pleased with the fact that the Rebel offensive players are currently making plays when they are needed the most.

"On the drive that resulted in Quincy's TD, Bo converted a huge 3rd-and-8 by diving across the marker in traffic. Those are the kind of plays that win games - plays that keep the momentum in your favor, keep the chains moving and demoralizing the opponent and the home crowd," he explained. "Again, I go back to maturity. We are making plays when we need to, we are not making big mistakes that kill momentum.

"And, to me, the sky is the limit because we are obviously not playing as good as we can. We just need to keep going and see what happens, but right now, we are 6-0 and building more maturity and confidence every week. I like where we are, but know we can even do better."

Wommack's group gave up 488 yards, but a lot of those were meaningless, with the Agies trailing 35-7 and the Rebel defense playing, as instructed, "soft" so not to give up any big plays.

"I was proud of them. We got two defensive scores and we held a great offense in check while the game was on the line," said Dave. "The biggest thing we wanted to accomplish tonight, and I know this will sound strange against a passing team, was to stop the run, and we did that.

"They only had 91 yards rushing on 37 attempts. I am not worried about the late yards they got through the air because we were playing to win and we had the game won if we didn't give up explosive plays."

With Trae Elston suspended for a half, Mike Hilton moved to strong safety and freshman Kendarius Webster got his first start at corner.

"First let me say Mike is a fantastic football player who took on a tough task and handled it with ease. Ken is going to be an incredible player. He made a couple of freshman mistakes tonight, but he played great, in my opinion, especially when you consider the environment and the matchups he had against some explosive receivers," noted Wommack. "He is so talented and these snaps will only help him get better quicker. He passed his first major test tonight with flying colors."

Wommack said last week that Texas A&M's offensive line was the best the Rebs had faced this year. After the game, he didn't change his mind.

"I thought this was our biggest challenge up front and I think our front four did a terrific job against a very talented OL," he stated. "They protected their quarterback well, but we were still able to get to him a couple of times and force a pick six and forced him to fumble for a scoop and score by Keith Lewis.

"I have no issues with how we played up front tonight. That was a tough, tough challenge and our kids rose up against it."

At the end, Wommack started rushing only three and playing more defenders in coverage.

"As I said, when you are up 35-7, and all you care about is the win and not style points, we decided on some softer coverages and less bodies rushing. We knew they couldn't score quickly that way and the clock would become their enemy," he explained. "I thought that was the smart thing to do.

"I look at the stats and they had 488 yards, but to me, 200 of them were meaningless. Even at that, I think that's their lowest yardage output of the year. Or close to it."

In 17 night games at home under Kevin Sumlin, it was the first time the Aggies were shut out in the opening half.

"I was very pleased with that. We got a cushion and we played it smart from there," he added. "When you play a team as talented as them, if you think you are going to hold them to 200 or 300 yards, you are crazy. It's just not going to happen. They are too good in that system. They have the ability to move the ball. Again, we stopped the run and that was critical to the outcome to me."

Like Werner, Wommack believes the maturity of the team is showing, to this point.

"Look, we have a lot more football to play. We can get better, but I like the way this team is approaching each day, each week and each game. They are preparing well and showing maturity," he closed. "That is huge in this league. We just need to keep it going."


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