Rebel defense made strides, but Dave Wommack said there is more to do

No doubt Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack was proud of the effort his troops had against Texas A&M, holding the Aggies to 3 points and 192 yards of total offense, but Dave said there are still things to improve on and that's the goal this week heading into Auburn Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

"We cut our missed tackles down a lot from Memphis to Texas A&M, but we still had 11 and 11 is too many," said Dave. "The second half of the A&M game was very good, but we still have work to do, still have some things to iron out. 11 missed tackles could cost you a game somewhere down the line."

The way the Rebs got this far in improvement was a more physical practice regimen last week in preparing for A&M. Will Wommack continue that this week as the Plainsmen await?

"We still have to keep working on it and being physical in practice. We will work on it in a physical way for at least two days this week," he noted. "As I said, 11 missed tackles are still too many."

Last week, Wommack honed down and simplified what the Rebel defense did against the Aggies. Will he be able to do that this week against the Auburn offense that uses so many formations and looks?

"We will have a totally different gameplan, but we will also try to keep it simple. We have enough in that we can mix things up, but not too much so we confuse our guys. So, yes, we will be able to keep it relatively simple against a multiple offense," he noted. "They will be playing a redshirt freshman quarterback in Sean White, but I can see him impproving weekly. He's got a lot more control of the offense now than he did in his first game or two. He looks good now.

"And their receivers are always good. We will have our hands full."

Wommack said the task will get more dificult this week at Auburn with the number of outstanding backs the Tigers have, including Peyton Barber and Roc Thomas.

""There are so many great backs in this league and he is definitely one of them. Peyton is runing determined, like all Auburn backs do, and so is Roc (Thomas)," Wommack continued. "Peyton is physical, but he can also jump cut and catch the ball out of the backfield. He does all the things great backs do and will definitely be on the next level when his time comes. Roc is very quick and fast - we recruited him too. They compliment each other well."

Robert Nkemdiche, out last week with concussion symptoms, and Tony Conner, out since the Alabama game with knee issues, both practiced Tuesday.

"I expect to have Robert back for the game, but I thought the same thing last week," Dave stated. "As for Tony, I don't know yet. I haven't gotten him to see him do much yet."

As much as Dave wants Tony back, he doesn't want to rush him back, especially now that Mike Hilton has tuned back in to playing Husky.

"Our safeties were outstanding against A&M. Trae Elston and Mike were as good as I have seen them," said Wommack. "Of course we want Tony back, but we want him back healthy and able to play effectively. Mike and Trae both tackled extremely well and they knocked some balls down.

"It was just a couple of games ago that we moved them back to those old positions, Trae at Rover and Mike at Husky. It took them some time to get tuned in, but now they are, or at least getting there."

Dave is hoping the Rebel defense can carry on from where they left off against A&M.

"The energy and enthusiasm was at a high level. We played each snap like it was the most important play of the season and that is what it will take from this point on. At the end of the season, one team is going to be left standing. In order for it to be us, that type of energy and enthusiasm will have to be duplicated," he said. "Hopefully, we will do that.

"We need to keep covering well, we need to keep the pressure on and we need to execute in tackling. If we do, we will be OK, just like we were last Saturday."

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