Yes, There's Pressure

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack didn't deny there is some extra pressure associated with the Egg Bowl, but from his demeanor, he is geared up to handle it.

"This is one of those games where every fan of both schools feels pressure," said Wommack after Tuesday's closed practice on the stadium field. "This is what we do (for a living) as coaches and players.

"I know it is important to the fans, but I promise you it is much more important to our coaches and players, so there is some pressure associated with this game."

The 8-3 Rebels will be taking on 10-1 Mississippi State in a grudge match Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS in Oxford.

No doubt, there is a lot at stake for both teams.

Wommack's charge will be devising a plan and coaching the Rebel defense to stop a potent Bulldog offense averaging 39.0 points per outing and led by QB Dak Prescott, where their attack starts.

"The first thing you notice on film is the quarterback and running back (Josh Robinson, 1084 yards, 6.6 average per carry), but I like their tight end, Malcolm Johnson, and their receivers. They are ranked in the Top 5 for a reason - they are good," he said. "They have a good offensive line and I don't see a whole lot of injuries."

Wommack, who watches as much film of opponents as anyone anywhere, has seen improvement in Prescott's play from last year to this season.

"Dak was hurt some last year, but he has stayed relatively healthy this year and when he has been nicked up, he has played through it. He's a tough young man," noted Dave. "Also, his experience shows this year. He is throwing the ball better this year and he knows where he's going with it."

Containment of Prescott is critical to success against him.

"The only team that has contained him has been Alabama. Maybe he had a bad day or they had a good day or a little of both, but they didn't let him get away too many times, they rattled him a little bit and forced three interceptions," Dave explained. "They pressured him a lot with just their basic stuff.

"We studied them in the summer and from films this year and we have formulated a plan we will go with that we think best suits what we want to do versus what they like to do."

As for Robinson, count Wommack as impressed.

"He has a low center of gravity and is hard to bring down. I think your best bet is to gang tackle him," Dave continued. "There is one play that comes to mind against Kentucky I saw where he broke about eight tackles, spinning and getting away. It is his mindset - you can tell he is determined to get yards on every carry.

"Having said that, we did a pretty good job of tackling him last year."

There are similarities in what MSU does offensively and what Ole Miss does offensively.

"It is similar to us scheme-wise. They run the zone stretch and stutter read and then do a lot of play-action off of that," he stated. "They stretch you out because they run the QB so much. Teams like that try to stretch you out and cause problems that you don't have with a less mobile quarterback."

Redshirt QB Kendrick Doss is miming Prescott this week in practice.

"We can't put a Dak out there - we don't have one, but Kendrick does a good job for us," he noted.

The Rebel defensive "approach," if you will, will not change, according to the boss of the stoppers.

"Our job is to hold the opponents to the lowest point total we can, regardless of who we are playing, what time or where," he added. "Our guys have taken pride in being stingy all year. That is what we will emphasize.

"This is not a game where our guys will need a lot of motivation because of the way we lost last year, the rivalry aspect and the adrenaline that will naturally kick in."

What is the emotional state of the Rebel defensive players after the loss to Arkansas last Saturday?

"They are more determined. They know how close we have been in two of our losses. The game the other day just got out of hand and it some ways it didn't reflect the score and in some ways it did," Wommack said. "I believe we will be locked in."

So, yes, there is pressure associated with the Egg Bowl, but it's pressure Rebel DC Dave Wommack welcomes.

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