As much as Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack would like to believe his defense will be able to shut down the high-flying Memphis offense the way they did last year (3 points and 105 yards of total offense), it sounds as if he's not expecting that kind of game. He respects the Tiger offense, averaging over 47 points per game.
"They are averaging 47 points a game, 540-something yards a game and they haven't lost in a long time. They have a lot of confidence, you can see that on film," Wommack began his assessment of the Tiger offense. "They are extremely well coached. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they don't give you a lot of lost yardage plays and they kind of stay on track with what they want to do.
"I think they are showing more offense than they have in the past and they do it out of just a couple of personnel packages. They have the ability to go tempo or to slow it down. This is a great challenge for our defense. It will be very important for us to communicate effectively because they use more motions than they have in the past and if you have communication issues, you have problems.”
Dave got a head's up from former Ole Miss LB Coach Tom Allen, who is now the defensive coordinator at South Florida, who held Memphis to 24 points last week.
"Tom did a great job on them. I have talked to him a lot. He did a nice job scheming them, but in the end his defense was on the field too long early in the game and Memphis wore them down at the end," Dave noted. "The scheme he used though was very good. Unfortunately, the South Florida offense punted seven straight possessions early in the game and the wear on tear from the first half finally got his unit.”
Wommack faced Memphis QB Paxton Lynch last year and controlled him, but he says this year's version is much, much better.
"He's had a thousand game reps since we played them last year and it shows. He takes care of the ball and he is in total control of their offense," Dave said. "That's why they are scoring 47 points a game. You combine that with playing sound defense and having a good kicking game and that's why they are undefeated. Lynch can also hurt you with his legs. They use him running the ball. He runs well and they put him in the right positions at the right time. He can scramble as well - that's where he gets his big runs from, scrambling.
"We will have to put pressure on him. We have to rattle him a little, like we did last year. This is a new year though and we will have to rise to the occasion this year. He is probably the hardest QB we have had to prepare for this year even though the young man at Florida was pretty good too.”
Wommack had some personnel shuffling going on last week with MLB C.J. Johnson out with an injury and the decision to move Mike Hilton to Husky, Trae Elston from FS to Hilton's Rover spot and elevating C.J. Hampton to the starting free safety slot. Terry Caldwell started for Johnson at MLB. How did it all work out?
"I thought Terry did some great things. He had a couple of issues, but he flew to the ball and had a sack. His production was very good," Wommack noted. "I thought Mike and Trae never missed a beat. They are just natural. And C.J. did a nice job in his first start. I was pleased with the guys from top to bottom.”
Now that Tee Shepard is gone and Kailo Moore is still injured, Wommack is counting on Carlos Davis as his third cornerback behind Kendarius Webster and Tony Bridges.
"We trust Carlos there. I have confidence in him. We have taken the redshirt off of Cameron Ordway and I like what he has shown as well. I wish we could have redshirted him this year, but we weren't able to. He will battle, he can run and his technique is good. He just needs to get stronger," Wommack added.
Defensive Tackle D.J. Jones is currently under concussion protocol, but Wommack believes he will play Saturday.
"We will need everyone. Memphis has a fine offense and we will have to play well," he closed.