Petre Thomas

Wommack knows the quality of the Razorback offense

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack flipped on the Arkansas-Alabama game last Saturday during the Rebels' open date and even though he saw the Tide come away with a big victory, the quality of the Razorbacks' offense was not lost on the veteran mentor.

After Tuesday's practice, Rebel DC Dave Wommack said he could tell his players had benefited from a couple of days off and a light week last week during the open date.

"They were bouncing around and refreshed and ready to go. I talked to Paul (Jackson) and he said they were the same way in the weight room - energized," said Wommack. "We are busy getting ready for this difficult game in Fayetteville."

So what did Dave see when he turned on the Arkansas-Alabama game last Saturday?

"I saw a good offense. I saw Alabama knocking their quarterback (Austin Allen) around and him still throwing for 400 yards," Wommack stated. "He put it on the money, even under pressure. Alabama did a great job stopping their run game and pressuring him, but he made great throws regardless, and he has done that all year.

"Allen did that against Texas A&M too and they also roughed him up, but he kept popping up making great throw after great throw. I am very impressed with him. He looks a lot like his brother, Brandon, who took it to us last year."

The Hogs run a lot of screens, bootlegs, play-action and their route tree has a lot of crossing routes and pick plays, which is different from most teams in the SEC.

"They made a quick effort to run the ball against Alabama, but nobody is doing that, so they started throwing it almost every down," Dave stated. "They normally live off the run game, the boots, the waggles and taking some deep shots along with those crossing routes. They do a nice job with their formations and they are different than anyone else in our conference in that regard, so it's a different preparation, but it should have helped us to have an extra work to work on their stuff.

"I expect them to be more balanced in our game - everyone has problems running against Alabama, but you never know, They threw the ball all over us last year, for over 400 yards, but they also kept things balanced, which didn't allow us to hone in on much. It was a difficult game, to say the least, a year ago."

The Hog screen game is high on the priority list for the Rebs to recognize and react to.

"(DL Coach) Chris (Kiffin) does a good job of picking up things that tip off the screens and he will have our guys well-schooled on that, but it's still a very effective part of Arkansas' offense and something we certainly have to be tuned in to," he noted. "They like to keep guys in to protect and they will use the tight end and the backs to chip before they release. That's when they set up the screens and the tight end drags and such. They do a good job with it. We have to be on our toes."

Speaking of the Hog tight ends, Wommack knows what to expect.

"They've had some really good players there. Great players are hard to stop, even when you know it is coming," he added. "They have NFL-type tight ends who really stress you and make it difficult matchup wise. Putting a safety on those guys is difficult at times. It's like our opponents that have to deal with Evan (Engram), sometimes nothing works, but you just try to slow them down. Stopping them is very, very difficult."

During the off week, one area of focus for the Rebels was linebacker, where the play of that group has not been what the coaches had hoped for.

"We will see Saturday, but I believe we have made some strides there. We have looked at some different personnel packages that I obviously won't discuss and we'll see how the rest of the week plays out in practice and how that translates into the game," he continued. "We need that area to get better and perform."

The bend-but-don't-break Rebel defense will be looking to make their last outing, where they collected four turnovers, a trend.

"We just keep emphasizing the importance of creating turnovers and working on ways of getting the ball out and going for the ball when it's in the air," Wommack closed. "We got four against Memphis. Our goal was six. We got stuck not getting any turnovers for a couple of games, but hopefully the last game was contagious.

"I think once youngsters get more comfortable with what you are doing on defense, which ours have lately, you can create more turnover opportunities. Also, we have knocked some balls out, but we have to get on them before our opponents do."

Wommack respects the Razorback offense, rightly so.

But he accepts the challenge of trying to stop them this weekend in Fayetteville.

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