Dan Werner

Two weeks from the opening kickoff, the Reb bosses seem relatively comfortable

Roughly three weeks into fall camp, with roughly two weeks until the season opening kickoff with Florida State, the Ole Miss coordinators seem to have very little to complain about in regards to the progression of the Rebel football team..

Neither Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner nor Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack approached the media Saturday afternoon with much angst or turmoil on their faces.

In simplistic words, so far, so good, it seems.

"I feel really good about the offense," Werner began. "We had a lot of success last year and lost a lot of guys, but the younger guys have taken it upon themselves to step up and are determined to make this thing right.

"It seems they worked very hard in the offseason with Coach (Paul) Jackson. They are in great shape and they are locked in mentally. I'm very pleased so far in fall camp. Things are not perfect, but they are where we had hoped they'd be.."

The concern on the offensive side of the ball coming into fall camp was the inexperience with the offensive line. Again, so far, Werner sees progress and light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

"It's coming together. We have moved some guys around a little bit to see who is going to fit where, but we think we can come up with 8-10 guys who can help us in a game," he stated. "Guys are really battling for playing time."

From practice observations, it appears eight players have stated their cases and are being recognized accordingly. At left tackle, Rod Taylor and freshman Greg Little. At Right guard, Javon Patterson. At center, Robert Conyers. At right guard, Jordan Sims and Daronte Bouldin. At right tackle, Sean Rawlings and Alex Givens.

Givens has also been playing some left tackle and may be the swing guy at tackle until Little catches on some more. Rawlings has also been playing some center and Taylor has been taking a few reps at the guard slots.

"We have some versatility there, so that's good," said Dan. "We just need one of more to surface up front and we will be fine."\

Werner said there is not one particular area of concern at this juncture. He just wants every position to keep progressing this final two weeks of fall camp and , of course, throughout the season.

"We're just trying to become a great offense, so there's work to be done on everything, but I am not really majorly concerned with any one area," he stated.

The Rebs got some bad news last week when junior Running Back Jordan Wilkins was declared academically ineligible due to "administrative error" for the 2016 season, but Dan is taking it all in stride.

"Next man up," he said. "We have to treat it like an injury. I hate it for Jordan, as if he was injured, but we have talent at that position and the next man has to step up and get the job done. I love our next guys. I think Akeem Judd, Eric Swinney, Eugene Brazley, D.K. Buford and freshman D'Vaughn Pennamon will do just fine. All those guys understand pass protection and everything we are doing. 

"It's football. Things happen. You can't dwell on them. You just have to move on and talk about what we are going to do, not bemoan what has happened."

Obviously, wide receiver and tight end is a projected strength. Werner certainly feels that way.

"When you have Evan Engram, (Damore'ea) Stringfellow, Quincy (Adeboyejo), Van Jefferson and (DeMarkus) Lodge returning and then you bring in Octavious Cooley, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre' Nixon on board, you have to feel good. Also, we have guys like Derrick Jones and Taz Zettergren that have played in games for us and that's important," he closed.

Quarterback? Well, frankly, nothing was asked.

If there's one thing the Rebs aren't worried about it is Chad Kelly, Shea Patterson and Jason Pellerin. From all accounts, all are doing well, advancing daily and moving the team.

For the offense, no major complaints.

Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack had a very similar "attitude" about his side of the ball - not a lot to fuss about and quite a bit to praise.

"I think we have made a lot of progress, especially in the last week. In our first scrimmage last week, we played poorly, especially in tackling and chasing the ball, but we have emphasized those points to the guys and they have responded," Wommack began. "We are starting to fit things better and some of the younger players are starting to jump out at me.

"Overall, we are making good progress and are on track."

Prior to fall camp, Wommack had concerns about linebacker and the safety slots. 

"They are coming along fine," he continued. "It's a process, but we are starting to develop some depth and get a feel for what each kid is capable of doing.

"Our safeties have never played before, but they are getting the hang of it. D-Train (Deontay Anderson) is doing a nice job and picking things up quickly for a true freshman. Myles Hartsfield has come a long way since spring and he had a good spring. Our offense is really challenging him with a lot of variety and it is helping him. He is getting better daily. I hated to lose C.J. Moore, but you just have to move on. Zedrick Woods is doing a nice job at free and C.J. Hampton started slowly, but he has really come on strong the last five or six practices.

"At linebacker, some of them are just trying to learn how to get lined up properly. Once they do, they are pretty good. Rommel (Mageo) and Detric (Bing-Dukes) are learning their fits and have come a long way in learning a brand new scheme quickly. They have work to do, but they will help us. They will help us against more physical teams, but right now things are just starting to run together a little on them. I am certainly not disappointed in them. They will get it. I am pleased with DeMarquis Gates and Terry Caldwell has had a great fall camp thus far. Tayler Polk has also had a great fall camp. I have seen Willie Hibbler make a lot of progress as well as Ray Ray Smith."

If tomorrow were the first game, Dave intimated, Gates and Caldwell would be the starters - Gates in the middle and Caldwell outside - but he also insinuated that it is still two weeks until game time. "In a perfect world, I would like Gates outside, but he is ready for middle," Dave added. "It also depends on what type of offense we are playing."

The Rebs are working without Fadol Brown right now and that's a pretty big blow, but Wommack takes it in stride. 

"Somebody has to step up - Sean Curtis, Garrald McDowell. If that doesn't work, we will move an inside guy outside, most likely Breeland (Speaks)," he assessed. "We are strong in the middle and can afford to do that if we need to."

At Husky, it's in good hands with Tony Conner returning.

"Tony is Tony - a great one, but I have been pleased to see Montrell Custis come on strong lately and make some plays. He will help us rest Tony some and I think that will help Tony a lot," he closed.



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