Most of the time, success and confidence go hand-in-hand.
Have a little success, gain a little confidence.
Both can be contagious and both can build to a crescendo.
The Ole Miss defense entered the Texas A&M game with not a lot of success to show for their efforts and not a great amount of confidence. That didn't change in the first half, where a couple of big busts - which have been common this year - helped give the Aggies a 21-6 halftime lead.
DC Dave Wommack said the Rebel defense needed a spark and they got it early in the second half.
"When we tried the onside kick coming out of halftime and didn't get it and the defense stopped them, we got some needed confidence. I think in the third quarter we had several three-and-outs after that and the whole tone of the defense changed for the better," said Dave, whose defense only gave up 122 yards of total offense to A&M the entire second half. "We challenged them at halftime. We had some more miscommunication - again - out there and we just told them if they would stop doing those silly things we would be a much better defense.
"They stopped making those kinds of mistakes and we played solid football."
Confidence, success, hand-in-hand.
"It was really good to get that win. We really needed it. We were all so excited in the locker room after the game - coaches, players, everyone," Wommack continued. "That was the first road victory we have had this year and it was against a quality team we did it against in a loud environment. Hopefully we can build on that game the remainder of the season."
Wommack said it was a team effort, but he also believes his side of the ball has gotten a huge boost from the return of DE Fadol Brown.
"To have his presence in there is major for us. He is capable of doing a lot of things as well as anyone in the country and he has made a major, huge difference in our effectiveness and demeanor," Dave noted.
The Rebs also got a boost from freshman Rover Deontay Anderson.
"He had a good game. He has earned more playing time. He has locked in and studies film in the mornings. He has a great attitude about the game and that's why he has gotten better and I expect him to continue that," Dave allowed. "We had some execution errors and we felt Deontay needed a chance to see if he could get it done. He's done well.
"We are not down on Miles (Hartsfield), but we felt Deontay was more tuned in against A&M and was ready to go."
The Rebels, namely Wommack, are more settled at linebacker now as well.
"We are not having to rotate as many players in there now because we have gotten more comfortable with Rommel (Mageo) and DeMarquis Gates. We had no continuity there and some of that was my fault for not settling on someone and just going with them. Now I am more comfortable with who is out there and they are playing better," he stated. "We still have work to do, but we are improving, finally.
"DeMarquis is pushing through his knee issues. I'm sure he will have to have some repair after the season, but he's playing through it now and doing much better than earlier this year."
Freshman Defensive Tackle Benito Jones has also surged of late.
"Again, another freshman who has produced and earned the playing time," Dave added. "He just comes out there and works and tries to improve his craft every day. He is that kind of kid, on and off the field. He takes care of his business and it pays off for him."
Dave has plenty of respect for Vanderbilt.
"You look at their record and they remind me of us. They are better than their record. They have played five teams within a touchdown. They always seem to be one or two plays away from winning games and I know our offensive coaches respect their defense as much as I respect their offense," he continued. "They have good backs and, as everyone knows, we have had trouble stopping the run. This will be a major challenge for us and I hope we can carry over what we started against A&M.
"They run 15 different personnel packages, which is a lot to get ready for, plus they always have a few new wrinkles that you have to adjust to on the fly, so we have to be ready for anything."
Confidence . . .
. . . it will most likely play an important part in the Vandy game Saturday in Nashville and hopefully lead to more success for the Rebel defense.