Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator John Thompson watched the Missouri game film Sunday and started marking down busts by his players.
He lost count. Not really, but it seemed that way.
"It was a lot, too many. I'm not going to say how many, but it was way more than is acceptable," said Thompson. "We made mistakes in our blitzes, in our tackling and in our pass coverage. We were very poor for too long a time frame in the game. From the second quarter through the opening Missouri drive of the second half, we were not a good defensive team in any capacity. We gave up big plays, plays that there is no excuse for. It's got to be fixed and it will be fixed. We tackled poorly and when the first guy misses against a spread offense, the yards after contact will be more significant than when defenders are all bunched up around the ball in a more conventional offense.
"Missouri was 8-10 on third downs through a half and one third-quarter possession. After that, they were 1-6, which is acceptable."
The game didn't start out poorly. Thompson was encouraged by the way the Rebel defense began the contest.
"Missouri had a 12-play series nickel and diming us. We played and we covered and did a decent job. We stopped them. That's how I anticipated the whole game going. They didn't score in the first quarter," he explained. "Then, we started giving up big plays and not forcing anything to happen in our favor. Bam - 28 points. Then we go in at halftime and think we have some things fixed and they score on us in a hurry on a big play. That's just poor play.
"I think the mistakes were mental and physical. We didn't show much composure and we didn't seem able to stay in the moment. We were not playing in the present. It was like we couldn't put the past out of our minds or something."
J.T. said he called for blitzes/pressure, but didn't get it.
"We had one or two guys, like Ashlee Palmer, giving up his body and trying to get there, but we also called some blitzes where our blitzers were not pinning their ears back and getting after it," he stated. "When we say sic em, you have to go. You have to bring it with everything you have. You can't blitz tentatively.
"We weren't playing fast and we weren't playing confident and you have to do that. We didn't get off the field on third downs enough during our bad quarter or so and we didn't knock the ball loose, and we had some ball exposures where we could have."
It looks as if WLB Jonathan Cornell, who went out with an injury near the end of the first quarter, will not play against Vandy.
"Somebody has to step up. They are going to get a chance to like they did last Saturday," noted Thompson. "Jamie Phillips and Brandon Thomas did OK, but from a whole defense standpoint, we weren't aggressive.
"You want to watch a defense that is flying around and hitting people and selling out and making things happen. We didn't have enough activity from anyone. Jamarca and Ashlee were OK, but we were bland in terms of the aggression we have to play with. Play aggressively - you have to and we will. We played hard and we didn't give in and we didn't loaf. That's all good, but now we have to start playing aggressively with confidence. We have guys like that - Jamarca, Ashlee, Kendrick Lewis. We have guys who want to knock you out, but we're not doing it often enough and we are not overcoming bad plays enough. We had an opporunity to win that game if we had made something happen, but we didn't."
Thompson said he can see the aggression he's talking about come around.
"I have to do a better job of selling what we're doing and do a better job of recognizing potential problems before they happen. That's on me. We had to work on things during the game that surprised me and I did not anticipate. That's my job - to anticipate anything that could happen and have an answer for it immediately," he added. "I will get that done and with that, the aggression and confidence will come. We can't have lulls like we did against Missouri."
The Rebs will get another shot at a spread offense this weekend against Vandy.
"They do a real good job gameplanning for individual opponents. We will watch what they did against Bama and prepare for that, but we know they will do different things against us and we will have to be prepared for anything," J.T. said. "For instance, we know they are going to throw the ball to WR Earl Bennett, but they will try to get it to him in different ways than they did versus their last opponent. They do a great job of scouting and looking for openings and mismatches. They do a real good job of changing things up weekly and getting their players to understand and execute the changes.
"You have to be prepared for the QB draw, the speed option and all sorts of things in their spread. It's a good scheme and we will have to be tuned in to stop it. We have the players to do it, but we all have to be on the same page and we have to minimize our mistakes. Like Memphis and Missouri, Vandy capitalizes on your mistakes. If you make a mistake, they will make you pay."
Thompson did not discuss personnel changes, but indicated some tight evaluations would be going on this week.
"We have to get the right players in there at the right positions, players who know what they are doing and will play aggressively. We'll get it done," John closed.
DC John Thompson -
OM Spirit Top Stories
AP: LSU 38, Ole Miss 21BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leonard Fournette broke LSU's single-game rushing record on just his first eight carries -- scoring three touchdowns of 59 yards or more -- and the 25th-ranked…
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:57 PM
Instant Reaction: Ole Miss - LSUBATON ROUGE, La. - Ole Miss Spirit staffers give their instant reactions from the Rebels' 38-21 loss at LSU Saturday night.
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:48 PM
From the Locker Room: LSUBATON ROUGE, La. - Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and defensive end Marquis Haynes met the media following the Rebels' 38-21 loss at LSU Saturday night.
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:44 PM
A Hard LookBATON ROUGE, La. - Hugh Freeze praised LSU for their play Saturday night in Death Valley as they emerged with a 38-21 win over his Ole Miss, but once he got over the formality of…
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:33 PM
Freeze: "We Gotta Look at Ourselves Hard"Baton Rouge, La. - Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said the Rebels fell short in all facets of the game in the second half against LSU. Ole Miss failed to score in the second half…
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:08 PM