"I was very disappointed in the run game," said Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner after the Rebels' 31-17 SEC loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville. "I haven't seen the stats, but we had to throw the ball too much because we couldn't run it and that's not us.
"We have to be able to 50-50 it to be successful, we have to be able to run the football and we did not tonight."
Ole Miss hsd a net of just 54 yards rushing after running for more than 200 against Missouri last week.
Werner, not having the benefit of evaluating the film of the game yet, said he wasn't sure where things went wrong in the run game, but he had an idea.
"From the press box, it appeared we had some holes open up but they seemed to close very quickly," he continued. "We either were not making the proper reads or we weren't holding our blocks long enough."
Werner was also not pleased with the fact the Rebel QBs were sacked six times by Vandy's defense. Starter Seth Adams, who suffered a shoulder injury early in the game and then hurt it a little worse later in the contest, was sacked four times and Brent Schaeffer, who replaced him, was sacked two times.
"When we got in a situation where we had to throw, they were not respectin the run and they got by us a few times. It was frustrating because we felt we could run on them," Dan noted.
Vanderbilt threw a couple of defensive wrinkles at the Rebs, but Werner said they wre not difficult to adjust to.
"They did a couple of things that were good and different, but they weren't hard to figure out and adjust to. Basically, I'm leaving here feeling we were outplayed. They just played better on defense than we did on offense," he added. "We felt we could attack their corners, and we did for two or three big plays, but we couldn't do it all night. We had to get a running game going to give us some balance and we couldn't get it done effectively enough."
The bottom line for the offense, Werner said, was the same problem that plagued them the first two games, a lack of consistency.
"We went in spurts again. We had some series where we did some good things, but we didn't string a lot of things together, obviously. We had a few big plays, which were real good, but beyond that we didn't have much consistency," Werner stated.
"Through three games, we feel we've been able to move the ball OK, but we haven't made enough plays in the Red Zone. The first two games, it was turnovers that did us in. Tonight, it was a lack of execution and making the plays when we needed them the most. It is very frustrating, but we will find ways to get it done."
Thompson said the game did not get off to a good start for the Rebel defense, who gave up 383 yards on the night.
"Vandy made it look easy on the first drive, especially when we gave up the big third down play on a blitz where we should have gotten QB Chris Nickson down," J.T. began. "We kept battling, but it seemed like everytime we needed a play, we were right on the verge but couldn't get it done.
"They converted some really critical third and fourth downs on us. Nickson did some really good things with his feet and Earl Bennett is just a great player. He had 11 catches. That's just a normal game for him, but it's a big game when you are trying to defend it."
The Rebels started three JUCO linebackers - Tony Fein, Ashlee Palmer, who was playing on a gimpy ankle, and Lamar Brumfield, who was seeing his first action as a Rebel.
"We are what we are and we just have to keep getting better. I didn't feel limited with our linebacking situation, but there were times our inexperience showed," he continued. "I have to give Vandy some credit. They made some nice calls on some big plays and their players executed.
"I thought we could have helped ourselves out by tackling better. For the second week in a row, we tackled poorly. Last week I thought we tackled poorly from a mental standpoint. We didn't execute. Tonight, we didn't wrap up and finish plays and we missed a lot of tackles on their backs cutting back against the flow. I thought it was more physical tonight, but either way we have not been a very good tackling team the past two weeks."
J.T. said the Rebel defense has no intention of hanging their heads.
"I really feel we are playing hard. Our kids are not down and they haven't let up. We just aren't getting it done right now," he stated. "I know it doesn't look like it, but we hve been really close to making some big plays and we just aren't quite there.
"We will get it fixed, I'm sure of that because out kids want to get it right and are working their tails off to get better. Our guys are fighting and that's what we need right now. If they keep fighting, which I know they will, it will start turning for us. We have some big challenges facing us, but we are going to meet the challenges with everything we have."
The trio of Cassen Jackson-Garrison, who rushed for 119 yards, Chris Nickson, who passed for 200 and rushed for 57, and Bennett, who caught 11 aerials, were too much for the Rebels on this night.
"They did a great job. My hat is off to them, but a lot of this comes back on us. This whole deal is still about us - us doing the right things and making more plays," Thompson closed. "I thought we may have made the play that would change the whole game when Dustin Mouzon forced a fumble on a corner blitz and we went down to score, but then Vandy just drove it on us a couple of times and we were back in the mode of not being able to make a play again."
For Werner and Thompson, it's back to the drawing board.
"We are not playing winning football right now. We are doing some things well, but not enough and not consistently enough for sure," Werner said. "The frustrating thing to all of us is that we believe in what we are doing and in our kids, but the puzzle doesn't have all the pieces yet."
OM Spirit Top Stories
Ole Miss Commitment Progress ReportThe regular season comes to an end this week for most of the Ole Miss verbal commits. To find out how they fared last Friday read inside.
OM Spirit9:07 AM
Friday Focus: Ole Miss vs. AuburnOle Miss squares off against #15 Auburn at 6:15 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Check out the keys to victory for each team.
OM Spirit2:33 AM
Spirit Podcast: Your Questions, AnsweredIn this edition of the Ole Miss Spirit Podcast, Ben Garrett and Sudu Upadhyay answer listener questions, including the latest on Rebel football and much more.
OM Spirit1:00 AM
Spirit's Take: Predicting Ole Miss - AuburnOle Miss hosts Auburn Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The Ole Miss Spirit staff gives their thoughts on the game ahead.
OM SpiritYesterday at 12:30 PM