Petre Thomas

Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack is challenging the back half of the defense to be more aggressive

Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack did not like what he saw in the execution of the coverage packages the Rebels employed against Florida State. Consequently, he has challenged the secondary players to "compete and challenge" opposing receivers.

When asked about the coverage of Seminole receivers in the opening game last Monday, DC Dave Wommack didn't pull many punches.

It was poor. No way around it.

“I thought we had a great little package going there for them. You’ve got to be able to not back off. At times, I thought our guys played their coverage too loose, Wommack began a lengthy explanation. You’ve got to be able to challenge receivers. I thought we were getting great pressure with the packages that we had put in against them, I know we were. A touchdown they hit, we were hitting the guy in the mouth as he caught it, but we’re playing too loose coverage, so we’ve got to tighten up coverage to get better there. I like what we’re doing, we’ve just got to get better at doing it and executing the technique we’re teaching.”

It didn't help that Wommack's plans to use more press coverage with Kendarius Webster and Tony Bridges was derailed when Webster went down, but Wommack didn't use that as an excuse.

Ken Webster/USA TODAY images

"Our guys have to step up. You've got to be a competitor, you've got to challenge receivers, whether it's from a press coverage scheme or an off-man call or a zone call," he continued. "I'm not indicating our guys aren't competitors, but they have to go through that experience and know to get up there and compete. They can do it - they are here on scholarship for a reason, because they are good enough. It would have been nice to bring some of these youngsters along slowly, but without Ken out there, it's not going to work that way. They have to come on. Carlos Davis has to come on. Cam Ordway has to come on. The Jaylons (Jaylon Jones and Jalen Julius) have to come on. Kailo Moore has to do better. They all need to pitch in, get in some receivers' faces and get after them.

"I would really like to press cover every snap, that's my nature, but you have to do what your available personnel can do. I truly believe we will get there with a couple of the guys,but they have to gain some experience. We have really honed down what we are doing, but if we are still doing too much, I will hone down more. We are running half the defense we ran in past years due to our young safeties and corners. It does no good to come up with elaborate or multiple schemes if we can't execute them. As I said, though, we will get there, it was just an unfortunate incident (Webster's injury) that put us a little behind the eight ball. Now, we have to accelerate the learning curve for these other kids."

The Rebels didn't have much time to work on those types of corrections due to the short week, but Wommack said they "corrected on film" before having to rapidly move to Wofford.

“I remember when (Ole Miss athletics director) Ross (Bjork) walked in two years ago and said we’re opening with Florida State in this game," he said, "I said, 'Man, that’s great, that’s awesome.' He said we’re playing a 1-AA that next Saturday. I said, 'Who is it?' He said Wofford, I said oh my gosh. Because I’ve known them and that coach has been there forever. We played them when I was at South Carolina and it’s difficult to get ready for in a week’s time, let alone five days time. We had to spend some time on it this summer.”

Wofford's triple option, Wommack said, is a bit different, than say Georgia Tech, who the Rebels played in a bowl game three years ago.

“I guess because they’re so multiple in their formations," he said. "Usually, when you play Georgia Tech, you get the double slots and that’s about it. They might have one or two little wrinkles and that’s all you get ready for. This team’s got five or six personnels and they’ve got somewhere between 80 or 90 formations, so it’s about getting lined up and keeping it simple defensively.”

Cam Ordway

“It’s clicheish, but it’s putting your eyes in the right place. It’s assignment football. And we’ve played some option with Georgia Tech three years ago, but the guys that are playing now haven’t done that. So the other thing is keeping it simple because we’re in such a short window here of getting ready for the game. Our scout team is critical in being able to execute as closely as we can to what they’re doing. Speed will be a huge advantage for us in the game. Staying simple, putting your eyes in the right place (will help though).”

Wommack Extras: 

Focus on corrections: “Ours were mostly yesterday because we took on a whole new offense today. We did some of that in the meeting rooms,so we didn’t get to go through that in practice because of the amount of time that we had. But they all know what they did wrong and what we need to do better. It’d be nice to go out there and practice but this week doesn’t allow for that.”

On Issac Gross and Benito Jones: “Issac, I’ve said this before it’s so good to have him back. His explosion coming off the ball is so critical to us. I thought our defensive line really played well during the game. I talked to a couple of them and they said, well we didn’t play good enough. I like that attitude about them. I liked having Issac back. Benito, especially going through the situation of losing his dad last week, getting in the game early, setting the tempo, the kid has a passion for the game and he’s really going to help us this year.”

Personnel wise, what do you differently at corner? “Right now, we just keep trying to get the younger guys better. I think they will, you know, somebody is going to get more reps than we’re getting. Cam Ordway has got to step up. Jaylon and Jalen got to step up. Carlos played a bunch in the game, special teams and all that stuff. Tony’s got to get better and keep doing what he’s doing.”

Do you feel like the young guys understand what you’re asking them to do?: “I don’t know if you all can tell, but we’re probably running half the defense we’ve run in the past for the young safeties and young corners. I hope they do (know). I challenge the coaches if it’s too much for them to tell me and we’ll cut back. It doesn’t do us any good if we can scheme them and all that other stuff if our kids can’t execute it. I think you have to get in the game and experience the speed of the game. You’ve got to be a competitor, you’ve got to challenge them. I’m not saying our guys aren’t competitors, but they have to go through that experience and know to get up there and compete, you can do it, you’re here on scholarship.”

On Derrick Jones to corner: “Shoot yeah, I’d take Derrick Jones in a heartbeat if that’s what Coach Freeze wants to do. I’d love to have him.”

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