If you had watched your team lose four fumbles in a losing effort, what would your focus be in the next week's practice sessions?
The same as Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner's - ball security.
"Obviously, ball security will be our number one priority this week. We do drills every single day on ball security," Dan noted. "That is something Coach O wants to build the program on - protecting the ball on offense and taking it away on defense.
"We preach it all the time. I've never been on a staff that stresses hanging on to the ball like this one. It helped us in the first two games, but it all backfired on us last week. We'll get it down. I don't think we were taking it for granted, it was just one of those games where it happened."
Werner said QB Brent Schaeffer, the man with the most miscues, needs work on handling the ball under pressure.
"Brent got a little loose with the ball a few times when he was under pressure, so he's the one who needs the most work right now, but we had some others who didn't fumble who were letting the ball swing a little freely on some runs," he explained. "If you are not holding it high and tight and a defender hits the ball, it's coming out more times than not.
"We will correct that this week. It was strange to see it happening repeatedly against Kentucky because we had not fumbled in the first two games. Even though we work on it all the time, it wasn't something we were concerned with going into the game because of our past success in securing the ball."
On the bright side, Werner was pleased with the way Schaeffer distributed the ball to more skill players, the way the Rebs ran the ball and the way the plays (gameplan) were working against the Wildcats.
"I think Brent did a better job of seeing the field and running the offense more like we want it to be run," Werner continued. "Kentucky's defense allows more players to get involved. Certainly, we want to spread the ball around. I think our skill players are getting more comfortable with what they are supposed to be doing and Brent is more comfortable with the offense as a whole. I can see we are getting better in those aspects of the game.
"Our young wideouts are running good routes, catching the ball and are getting better. Beyond the turnovers, we had a very productive night, so we have things we can build on. Eliminate the penalties and the turnovers and we were pretty good at times. Our run game was good most of the night."
Dan was asked about the contribution backup TB Bruce Hall made against Kentucky.
"It's a tribute to a guy who has been working ridiculously hard. He moved from quarterback to tailback in spring, behind a great player. He didn't get many reps in spring or in August, but we saw that he was practicing hard and producing when he got the chance," Werner noted. "When it was time for someone to rest BenJarvus, we called his number and he did a great job for us.
"He hits the hole quickly and gets downhill in a hurry. He appears to be elusive and he's hard for one guy to bring down. A couple of times when we gave him the ball, we didn't have the play blocked correctly, but he'd make the first defender miss and get a nice gain. I was very impressed with him. We'd love to play him more in order to keep everyone fresh. The way he played, he deserves more shots."
The past two years, Werner has been at Miami, who plays Wake Forest every year. The Hurricanes put up a lot of points on Wake. Why?
"They are running the same scheme they have been running, but on film they don't look the same because all the guys Miami played against the last two years were kind of inexperienced. This year, you can tell their maturity," explained Dan. "They are a lot better this year on defense.
"At Miami, we were able to hit them with big plays. They are a solid, sound defensive team that focuses on stopping the run, which opened up the possibility for big plays. We were able to hit them."
Werner believes the Rebel offense is "close."
"We have been kind of inconsistent to this point, but I see enough good things happening to be positive we are close to having a breakout game," he stated. "We will glad to be home this week - the excitement from our fans will hopefully help us tune in and be sharp after being beaten twice on the road."
Dan would like to see a game that resembles the Memphis showing in terms of playing a "clean" game, but he'd like to see the execution from the Kentucky game continue and even develop some more.
"We're getting there. We can all see it and feel it," he closed.
Dan Werner -
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