No (Pressing) Issues

In an eight-minute "meet the press" opportunity with Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack, there wasn't much he wasn't pretty pleased with a little over midway through August camp.

"Things are going smoothly," he began. "We've got just about all of our playbook in, so the guys have a lot of inventory. The guys, last week and this week especially, are just getting better and better."

A good portion of the most recent interview is repetitive of what Dave has been saying since last spring - the Rebel defense should be pretty good.

Naturally, that depends a great deal on continued good health, but if the Rebs avoid injuries the depth and quality should be very, very good.

"We've got guys coming back from last year who want the defense to be better than last year's group. They have good chemistry and pride. They have worked hard to continue what last year's defense started," he explained. "They are not resting on last year. There is a new DNA on this defense this year even though a lot of the same players are on board. They are very close to being pretty good and I am excited to see them two weeks from tomorrow in a real game."

Dave was asked a lot of random questions by a bevy of reporters, starting with the safety backups.

"I think they are coming along fine. I like what C.J. Hampton, A.J. and C.J. Moore and the freshman, Zedrick Woods, are doing. I have been impressed with them," Dave stated. "I believe we are going to be able to play more people back there than we have in the past because I have faith in several of them behind the starters."

Up front, Wommack was quizzed about redshirt freshman DT Breeland Speaks.

"He has a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage and he's also a very good inside pass rusher," Dave noted. "I really like that whole group. We have some very good pass rushers and we can be versatile. I consider 8-9 of them to be starters.

"We can put a big ole, defensive line in there or we can put a speedy pass-rushing DL in there. I love that flexibility. We really improved ourselves with the additions of Breeland and D.J. Jones in the middle. We can also put Robert (Nkemdiche) at end at times and go really big and powerful or we can have speed rushers across the board. Our rush ends will be Marquis Haynes and C.J. Johnson, but Victor Evans will travel and may work himself into some playing time - he's improving.""

Wommack expressed a concern in spring for the depth at the linebacker slots, but he says that has been erased somewhat by the progress of some of the LB candidates.

"Denzel (Nkemdiche) is healthy and ready to play. DeMarquis Gates was getting a little hung up on himself last year, but he's more of a team guy now. He's a great athlete and he's starting to put everything together now," Wommack stated. "I'm not real concerned about the depth now because Ray Ray Smith has really come on strong this fall, I have confidence in Tayler Polk, Christian Russell and Temario Strong have gotten a lot better and Terry Caldwell gets better every day.

"I really have a difficult situation because I have eight guys who are pretty good and I really need to hone down to four or five who are getting the most practice reps. The competition has been very good among a very athletic group of guys. And I haven't even mentioned C.J. Johnson, whose transition to MLB has been excellent. He's playing LB and DE and is doing a great job. He's leading the team and I'm very proud of him and what he's doing. I'm totally confident in his running the defense. He does a good job of lining everyone up. We are not as experienced as we were last year, but we are more athletic - there is no question about that. The numbers have been an issue with freshman Shawn Curtis - his progress has been slow because he hasn't gotten a lot of reps due to our numbers. He's a great kid who works hard and he will get his shot in the future."

At cornerback, Wommack discussed having a five-man rotation.

"Tony Bridges has made some great strides since spring. Kendarius Webster may be the best one of the lot. Tee Shepard has progressed well since spring. Carlos Davis and Kailo Moore are also good players who will be used," he added.

Wommack closed by complimenting the Rebel offense.

"There is no doubt in my mind our offense has improved and that has helped us to improve. The competition this fall camp has been very good. The run game is much better and harder to stop," he ended. "Kudos to them."

Defensive line. . . check. . . DL versatility and numbers. . . check. . . linebackers. . . check. . . secondary. . . check. . .

. . . all is right in Wommack's world and that bodes well for the Rebels.


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