After Arkansas had defeated Ole Miss 53-52 last Saturday night, Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack didn't rest well. He kept replaying the game and his defense's sub par performance over and over and over again in his head.
"I just rolled around through the night and didn't sleep. I kept seeing play after play going Arkansas' way and we had no answers," Dave said. "Then, I got up early in the morning and went to the office where I watched it again and it wasn't any prettier the second time around. We had a lot of missed execution. Arkansas was a step ahead of us in everything they did. I don't remember us ever playing that poorly, except maybe against Texas our first year here, but we didn't have the players then we do now.
"I thought we had a good plan going in, but obviously we didn't. I thought we made some good adjustments at half, but obviously we didn't."
In his analysis, how does Wommack explain how onesided the match between the Hogs' offense and the Rebel defense was?
"Their quarterback, Brandon Allen, started off hot. We didn't execute early. I hate to use the word panic, but I think that's kind of what we did," he continued. "I think we were kind of 'we aren't stopping them - why aren't we stopping them?' Then a guy tries to help another guy and all of a sudden the whole defense breaks down."
Dave also took the blame for some secondary issues.
"You have to analyze yourself first when you have a game like that and I think we probably put our secondary guys in some bad situations loading up to stop the run at times. Then, we tried to adjust to compensate and we started doing things we hadn't practiced that much that week. All of that is my fault," Wommack stated. "We struggled in man techniques, which is a coaching thing we can do better in.
"The way to come out of a game like this is to get back to fundamentals. It always comes down to tackling, playing with fundamentals and playing with technique. You just have to go back to the basics and you have to keep telling your guys - do your job and don't try to do someone else's."
Dave was glad for the open week, but not after that particular game.
"You don't want your break to come after a tough loss, but we definitely needed the bye week," he noted. "We need the rest to recover mentally and physically. I think Coach (Hugh) Freeze did the right thing - we had a couple of practices this week and then we are going to take a couple of days off and get back after it Sunday in our regular game week routine.
"I can't remember the last time, if ever, I have ever been a part of 10 straight games without an open week, but that's no excuse for the way we played on defense last Saturday. What is a shame is that we didn't hold up our end of the the bargain. The offense was as good as it's ever been and that is lost in the fact that we could not make a play to stop them."
Wommack was asked about the much-anticipated return of one Tony Conner, who had been out since the Bama game with knee issues/surgery/rehab.
"He was rusty, to be honest. He has just been off a long time and he wasn't the Tony he normally is, but that's kind of the way the whole defense played, wasn't it?" Dave asked, knowing the answer.
LSU and Leonard Fournette is next.
"LSU is very similar to how they have been in the past. They have an excellent offensive line and they have a 308-pound tight end and a great blocking fullback," he explained. "They come right at you, like always. They are very physical. Everybody has struggled to stop them but Alabama who got in their 50 defense and man coverage in the secondary and stopped them.
"Fournette is special and unique. A guy that size who can run that fast, cut, spin and make you miss is rare. He's physical and tough and they have, as I said, a nice OL to go with him and a QB who can throw deep to keep you off balance. I've watched every game they have played, broken them down and worked on them. We will have to be on top of our game."
The Rebel defense has to get it right against the Tigers. . . .
. . . or Wommack will be sleepless in Oxford again.