Ask any coach the formula for winning and the first thing they will say is to limit turnovers on offense and create turnovers on defense.
In the 48-28 win over visiting Memphis, the Rebels had only one turnover and forced our. While that wasn't the whole story, it was a big part of it.
"We challenged the guys all week to create some turnovers," said Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack. "We were looking for six, but we got four. I'll take it because we hadn't been getting many in the first four games.
"Zedrick Woods had two interceptions and took one all the way back and D.J. Jones recovered a fumble and had an interception. Those were great to see."
Wommak was impressed with Memphis' offense, in particular QB Riley Ferguson, who threw for 343 yards but no TDs. He tossed all three picks.
"He was very slippery. When Marquis Haynes can't get his hands on him and had him in his sites all night, you know he is elusive," Wommack noted. "I knew he was a good quarterback, a good football player. He was recruited to Tennessee, but they started playing the other guy, so he transferred. I knew he could play and I knew they would be so multiple with all their motions and formations that they would move the ball on us.
'What we had to do was get turnovers and get off the field on third downs. We did that very well in the first half, but our lack of depth started to show a little in the third quarter and they took advantage of that. We are keeping things very simple to try to find the right personnel at certain positions, but we are still making mistakes that we have to correct as we move forward."
Coach Hugh Freeze complained a bit in his postgame press conference about the linebackers.
"It's been a struggle all year long, Gates had to sit out this week. We have to find someone who can get it done at the Mike LB and right now we aren't getting it done," he continued. "That was not good enough tonight. I was surprised because we are keeping it very simple and we should have been able to execute tonight. I talked to them after the game and asked them what happened and they said it was coming at them fast. I said sure it is, it's football. I have to communicate with them better and hopefully this open week will help us tune in better.
"We have to do a better job of getting those guys coached up. It's on us as coaches and a staff. We took a step back tonight at linebacker and at a couple of secondary slots. We have to do better."
Dave liked the Rebs' plan on third down.
"We held them to 5-13 on third downs, which isn't terrible, but again, we played real well in the first half and then just seem to lull when we put our backups in there and then we wear out our starters. We have to develop more depth and we have to do it in a hurry," he explained. "Our secondary was up and down. Our first team guys did a nice job and our second team guys did not.
"We just have to develop more depth and do it in a hurry."
Werner's crew rang up 624 yards and were virtually unstoppable, as expected. Another 40-point night is nothing to scoff at.
"I was proud of our guys," said OC Dan Werner. "We were effective without turning over the ball until right at the end when Chad (Kelly) tried to force one throw. Memphis had only given up three TDs all year, so I felt they'd be a competitive group, but I thought we did a great job up front of protecting and Chad made great decisions.
"We also had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. Memphis had not given up many rushing yards, but we were determined to run the ball and be balanced tonight. That was a little redemption because last year they stuffed our run game and they run the same basic scheme with a lot of the same players they had last year."
Werner said it was good to see the extra dimension of QB Jason Pellerin running a form of the Wildcat and scoring twice from short range.
"He's big, smart and strong and he can get us some tough yardage. Against a pressure defense, like Memphis is, for him to have success shows me a lot about him," Dan stated. "We used him out in the field to. I like what we saw."
Werner was happy with TB Eugene Brazley, who gained 128 yards on the night and scored 2 TDs, including the last one on a 32-yard run on third-and-15.
"He was rolling. I was happy for him. He has been patient waiting on his turn and when D'Vaughn Pennamon got hurt in practice, Eugene was the next man up and he produced," Werner closed. "Like I said, if we have balance, tempo and we take care of the ball, we will be very hard to stop, or even slow down."
The formula for winning is simple.
The Rebs followed the formula against Memphis and got a needed 'W' heading in to the open week.