Ole Miss MLB Patrick Willis did his normal "thing" Sunday in the Rebels' 28-25 victory over Memphis.
Normal for P-Willie, everyone's preseason All-American, is double digits in tackles and sideline-to-sideline disruption of opposing offenses.
But that wasn't good enough for Patrick. Why? Because the defensive unit he is on did not get passing grades from his coaches.
"We are in this together. The defense did not play the way we wanted it to. I'm a part of the defense," he noted. "I take it upon myself not only to hold up my end of the bargain but to make sure we do what we are supposed to do as a unit.
"We struggled some against Memphis because we weren't in the right places at the right times. Memphis ran a spread offense which we don't see very many times, but that's no excuse. We still have to maintain our gaps and be where we are supposed to be."
Willis and the Rebel defense will have an opportunity to redeem themselves against another spread offense and another bunch of Tigers - Missouri.
"Their offense is very similar to Memphis' offense. The plays will be similar. They'll run some one-back power sets and spread things out with three and four wide receivers," he continued. "Since the offenses are similar, it will help us a little to get prepared this week."
Patrick said he was not surprised at the success of the Ole Miss offense against Memphis. He sees them every day in prctice.
"We have complete faith in our offense and in our offensive coaches. They showed great strides during the fall camp nd I knew we had playmakers on that side of the ball," Patrick said. "the practices we have with them are battles. The practices have gone back and forth. One day, the defense wins, the next day the offense wins. Coach O said that's a sign of a team that's getting better.
"I knew going into the season that our offense should be better because we've had a hard time stopping them in August."
The Ole Miss coaches wisely held Willis out of a lot of practices in August camp, protecting his surgically repaired foot that was broken last year. The strategy paid off.
"My foot feels good, real good," Patrick said. "No problems at all, which is a relief. Our trainers and doctor and coaches did everything right to make sure I was 100% when the season rolled around and I'm glad they did."
Back on the defense, Willis has faith the second time around will be more productive.
"Everything we did wrong Sunday we can correct by Saturday. There were fundamental things and assignment things that we just have to shore up. We'll get it done," he closed.
Patrick will make sure of that.
Patrick Willis -
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