The Rebel offense took a step forward in the Missouri game, accumulating over 500 yards of total offense, rejuvenating their rushing game after a below average performance in the season opener against Memphis, and getting a 300-yard passing effort out of QB Seth Adams.
"The run game got back on track, which opened up the passing game," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner, "but the big key was the receivers did a very good job of getting open and Seth did a very good job of finding them and delivering good throws.
"We got Missouri guessing some. They got caught in whether they should play an eight-man front or drop out of there and try to stop the pass, which is what we try to do. When you have a defense guessing a little, you can do some things."
Dan said a big part of the success was based on Adams' management of the game.
"Seth did a good job of managing the game and running the offense. He knew when Missouri was in an eight-man front and would audible to a pass and he knew when they were in a seven-man front and we could run it," Werner continued. "I thought he did a real good job of that."
But what didn't suit Werner were turnovers and not finishing drives in a game where every possession was definitely going to count against a high-powered offense he felt they had to match score for score.
"We have to take care of the ball and finish drives once we march down the field," he explained. "We stoppe dourselves with a penalty once and we had a couple of turnovers. In a 13-point game, those are the differences in winning and losing."
More on Adams. . .
"I expected him to do what he's doing. He had a great offseason and a very good camp. He's done everything we have asked him to do, so it's not surprising to me he is producing," Dan noted. "It is very important to us that Seth's confidence has grown and he's getting more and more comfortable in what he's doing, but - again - I thought all along this was how he would react. He's prepared and he's poised. He sees little things and reacts accordingly. Seth is a guy who doesn't seem to get rattled and just goes out there and runs the offense like we coach him to."
The long TD throw from Adams to WR Mike Wallace didn't suprise Werner either.
"All those guys worked hard in the offseason on their chemistry and getting to know each other. They worked those situations every day. Seth saw the corner cheating up, he called an audible, Mike was on the same page with him, they pump faked, the corner bit, good throw, TD," Werner stated. "That was the culmination of a year's worth of work, learning each other, recognition, understanding things better. It all paid off.
"The idea that Seth can't throw the long ball is just not true. Like I said, he's worked really hard on doing that and it's all coming together for him right now. We knew we would have to throw the ball downfield to keep defenses honest and he showed he can do it in games, but what I like is that we aren't throwing it downfield haphazardly. When it's there, we throw it. When it's not, we go underneath for short completions. We'll take all of those a defense wants to give us. That, eventually, will lead to some longer stuff coming open and will raise the success ratio of those longer throws. Calling a long pass does not back a defense off - completing them does."
The return of WR Shay Hodge has also been a boost to the Rebel offense. He played some against Memphis, but was more effective against Missouri with five catches for 47 yards and a TD.
"The doctors told us he'd be ready, but we didn't plan on him being back this quickly. It's just a bonus to us," Dan said. "He's caught every ball thrown to him, he runs good routes and he's showing that he can be a big time receiver for us.
"He catches the ball in traffic and he seems to be one of those guys who is going to make the play if you throw the ball in his direction, no matter what."
Werner was really pleased with the run game, from top to bottom.
"The offensive line got going, BenJarvus played the way we expected him to and FB Jason Cook sprung BenJarvus for several nice runs with his good blocks," he stated. "I liked what I saw, but, again, we have to keep building on it and keep getting better."
Dan did not really agree with the notion the Rebel offense did not play solid football for most of the game.
"We didn't score but one TD in the first half, and we should have scored more, but we had 200 yards of offense in that half. We will take that game-in and game-out. We just happened to be more productive in the second half," he said. "We looked good on the first drive but a penalty stopped us. We stalled a couple of times then, but then we took a nice drive and fumbled deep in their territory. We came back and drove again for a score.
"We moved the ball fairly well most of the game, but we didn't finish things in the first half like we did in the second half. I think the perception we only played a half in both games is a bit skewed, but I do understand what we did is not good enough and we have to keep building on it and correcting what we did wrong."
Dan respects the upcoming opponent, the Vanderbilt Commodores.
"They are similar to Missouri in that they are well-coached. Last year they gave us fits, just like Missouri did. We weren't able to move the ball much against them," said Dan. "I'm sure they will try to build off what they did last year. Obviously, we feel we are better than last year and we do some different things they will have to prepare for.
"But we will have to play well against them because they do not make many mistakes. You have to beat them - they will not beat themselves."
OC Dan Werner -
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