When it was announced back in December that Wesley McGriff would be the new defensive coordinator for Ole Miss football, little did rising junior Middle Linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes realize just how beneficial that move would be to his career.
Bing-Dukes, you see, played, as The Temptations sang, in A Ball of Confusion most of 2015.
McGriff, McGriff's philosophy of MLB play and new LB Coach Bradley Dale Peveto have given Bing-Dukes a new lease on his football life.
Here's how it shakes down, as explained by McGriff and Peveto many times since their arrival.
“We’re going to keep our middle linebacker in the box as much as possible," said McGriff. "We want him playing downhill, maintaining gap integrity against the run and taking care of, mostly, run plays by the offense. We’ll adjust for coverages on the back end."
It just so happens that philosophy fits the 6-1, 242-pound Bing-Dukes to a tee.
Consequently, this spring, Bing-Dukes flourished and was named the defense's Most Improved player.
"I got my footwork better, I became more aggressive and I attacked blocks better," Bing-Dukes began. "I also tried to be more of a leader on defense. I needed to step up. I like the new defense Coach McGriff brought in. It’s simple enough for everyone to grasp it and be able to play fast without confusion.
"Staying in the box is where I feel most comfortable and in control and that's where I’ll be most of the time in this defense."
Bing-Dukes was part of a unit last year that got its share, and then some, of criticism. The returning LBs want to correct that and change the perception of their ability to make plays and perform effectively.
"We didn't let the critics get us down, but we certainly wanted to move forward and put that all behind us," he noted. "Now, we have a new coach, a new direction and a new motivation to erase the past."
The defense gave up more explosive plays than desired this spring while learning the new system, but that’s something Bing-Dukes believes can be corrected.
"We know we can fix that because we got better at stopping the run and limiting explosive plays every practice," he said. "Moving forward, we feel we know where the mistakes were made and we know what we need to do to correct them. One thing that probably made us look bad in the spring was how much experimentation the coaches did with different personnel trying to find who does what the best. When all of that gets settled, some of those big plays will go away as well."
Consistency — that is the key word for Bing-Dukes as summer approaches, not only for himself but for the whole defensive unit.
"We just have to chop away at getting the little things right and eliminating mistakes one by one. That’ll lead to the consistency we’re looking for," he assessed. "As a team, we got better this spring. We accomplished what we needed to accomplish. We have plenty to work on moving forward, but we’re off to a positive start with what we did this spring and how we progressed in 15 practices."
Most Improved — Detric Bing-Dukes.