"I don't remember but maybe one other time having a game like that one in my long career," said an obviously dejected Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack after his group got torched by Arkansas for 53 points and 605 yards in a gut-wrenching overtime loss. "The kids were playing their hearts out and battling, but everything we did, they had an answer for and we had not answers for what they were doing.
"Even in the end, in overtime, we made two game-ending plays, finally made a couple of plays, but didn't finish on a fourth-and-25 desperation lateral and a sack where we were called for a facemask. I really don't know how to answer the questions. I don't know what you want me to say. Everything they touched turned to gold."
Wommack said he felt he and his staff had a good plan entering the game, but that turned out to be a false evaluation.
"We thought we had a good plan. Obviously, we didn't. They were a step ahead of us all night long until overtime and then they still found a way to get it done and we didn't," he continued. "This one really hurts because of the way we lost at the end, but really it was a tough night from start to finish for the defense. I hurt for our players, the other coaches on this staff and the fans. We should have gotten the job done."
On the 4th-and-25 in overtime, Hunter Henry caught a short pass and was immediately hit. He threw up a prayer lateral that TB Alex Collins ended up with and ranbled to the 11 for a first down.
"Our kids were in the right position. We had talked to them about a lateral or some sort of razzle dazzle and I thought we were ready for it, but once they got back the ball, it was like a wall formed for him on the other side of the field," Wommack stated. "We told them to stay with their man, that a lateral would happen, and I thought they did, but it was just not meant to be."
After Arkansas scored in the overtime and then got the facemask call to put the ball on the 1 1/2 as the Hogs went for 2 to win the game, Wommack said he had the defensive call he wanted and the players were where they were supposed to be, so there was no need for a timeout.
"We had the call we wanted. Again, they had an answer to our call," he noted.
In the end, Wommack said the Rebel defenders lost too many one-on-ones, played too many plays, Arkansas had answers for his calls and the Rebels had no answers of their own.
"In the end, Arkansas made the plays and we didn't. We put in some packages we thought would be effective against their run game/play-action game, but they broke those down pretty early and, again, we scrambled at halftime to make some adjustments and those didn't work either," he stated. "We tried five down linemen, two linebackers early and it slowed their run, but they really exploited us in the passing game."
Wommack is scratching his head about the leack of consistency the Rebel defense has had this year.
"That's a great question. We play so many different styles offense, but you have to be able to focus and tune in every week, every series, every play and I don't think we have done that this year," he closed.
OC Dan Werner's side of the ball rolled up 52 points and 590 yards in just 66 plays and 18:57 in possession time, but Werner took the same amount of blame as Wommack.
"We should have found a way to scored 2 more points. Simple as that," Werner said. "I have been searching my brain trying to figure out how we could have score one more field goal or kept the ball longer to give the defense some rest. It just did not happen.
"In the second half, we were pretty unstoppable. Our guys were feeling good, they were tuned in, we were making adjustments on the fly that were working and it looked like we had it going on, but we needed two more points," he continued. "Chad (Kelly) had a really good game. His percentage was high, he ran for some TDs and he had no interceptions. He played well, but we needed two more points."
Werner said the Rebels did not think, going into the game, that they could exploit Arkansas' defense with Chad running the ball, but they saw early on that option would be effective.
"Chad ran for 110 yards on 11 carries and scored three TDs. The way Arkansas was setting their defense, him running it was open a lot," Dan noted.
Werner said he had never seen an ending like that before.
"We had them stopped and a crazy lateral gave them life. Then they scord and we stopped them on the two-point conversion but had a facemask. We just couldn't get over the hump," he closed.