Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner and Defensive Coordinator John Thompson, like Head Coach Ed Orgeron, had some good things to say about the Rebs' effort in the 30-24 loss to Florida, but the disappointment the Rebs didn't pull out a victory was dripping from their comments.
Both are coaching veterans who cringe at the words "moral victory." It's all about winning with them and anything else is simply not good enough.
"We didn't get it done," said Werner. "When you get in the Red Zone, particularly against a team like Florida who you know is going to score a lot of points against anyone in the country, you have to score touchdowns. Field goals are not going to get it done against them.
"If you trade your field goals for their TDs, you lose. Simple as that. We knew that going in and didn't get it done."
The Rebels did strike for two touchdowns, one a 77-yard pass from Seth Adams to Mike Wllace and the other on a 19-yard strike from Adams to Shay Hodge, but a 51-yard reception to the Florida 5 by Michael Hicks was squandered when the Rebs had to settle for a field goal.
"They were sitting on the short passes because we had been successful with them to Shay and Marshay and we thought a couple of long ones would be open. One went all the way, but we wasted the other one to Hicks when we didn't punch it in from the five," he lamented.
Werner was pleased with the play of Adams, but, again, he'd like to see his senior signal-caller cap more drives with six-pointers.
"Seth battled and made some beautiful throws. Both TDs and the other long one to Hicks were perfect. He played hard and smart, but he knows we have to finish the deal when we get a chance to and we didn't a couple of times today that really hurt us," Werner continued. "We felt like we had to throw a lot, but our run game was getting about 4 yards a carry, so we were doing some things correctly, but you have to finish. . . .We were also only 2-11 on third downs. We have to do a better job of that, get that to 50-60 percent."
Key, crucial penalties thwarted some of the Rebs' offensive efforts.
"We had some critical penalties and that's not like us. We pride ourselves in not turning the ball over and in not making penalties, but we had several drive-stoppers today," he said. "I do not know what happened there at the end with the snap infractions. I will have to see that on film.
"We don't even call a play there, so there is no way our guys jumped. We do that to get the defense to jump and I thought they did one time, but they called us for a snap infraction. I don't know. Strange deal I will want an explanation on."
Dan said the gameplan included throwing the ball more than normal because of the success the passing game has had this year.
"We feel we can throw on anybody right now because our guys are throwing and catching well. There were some good things that happened, but it's tough on us as coaches and players because we work 18 hours a day to win, not come close to winning," he closed. "The guys battled and we battled as coaches and we will continue doing that, but this one hurts, no doubt.
"I could tell we were going to put our best foot forward this week. We had some good meetings and talks about what we needed to do to turn things around. You could feel the guys buying in and starting to feel better about themselves as the week progressed. Now, we have to build on this one and keep going."
Thompson liked what he saw in the effort department.
"These kids of ours competed for four quarters, man they competed," J.T. said, "but it wasn't enough. We did make a big step forward, but there are two issues we have to find a way to correct.
"One, the tackling. Florida had a lot to do with that, but we still tackled poorly in some key instances. It looked as if we were anxious in the open field at times. Two, third downs. They were 8-15 - we have to get off the field better than that - have to."
Florida QB Tim Tebow impressed Thompson, as well he should have. Tebow rushed for 166 yards and threw for another 261, scoring two TDs himself and passing for another pair of scores.
"He was flawless. He didn't throw an interception and he didn't fumble. He ran the ball 27 times and we were peppering him - they were all inside runs, and he kept going," said Thompson. "Tim is just a tough guy. We weren't fooled, we just couldn't get him down. We'd make contact and he'd get three more yards. He's got great balance."
Thompson was pleased with the Rebel pass coverage, all things considered.
"We are the first team in some time not to get beat deep by them. They did have a 37-yarder for a score, but we didn't bite on the fake dive any today," he continued. "We made Tebow hold the ball more than he wanted to, but we have to come off the edge a little better and get more pressure on QBs than we are getting. I thought our coverage was pretty good most of the day."
The Rebel linebackers have not been having a stellar year thus far, but J.T. said he saw improvement versus Florida.
"Ashlee (Palmer) played his usual good game, but I was very pleased to see Jamie Phillips, Tony Fein and Chris Strong step their games up today. They did better as a unit," he commented. "We are making prograss.
"We have to figure out a way to get more turnovers. We had a chance today to get a big pick, but FS Kendrick Lewis broke on a ball and didn't quite get there to make the interception. We had one or two other times when we got our hands on the ball and just weren't quite there. We have to start making those plays."
Thompson said the Florida offense is good because of its versatility with the run and the pass.
"Their running game is the Wishbone, plain and simple, but they spread you out with their passing game and speed receivers," Thomspon stated. "Whatever they call it, it's a nice offense."
"We got better today and I loved the way we competed, but there was no victory. Some will call it a moral victory. I don't. You either win or lose and we lost. Nobody in our dressing room is calling this anything but what it is - a day we got a lot better, but a day we also lost," he closed. "We can build on this, but the rest of the season will tell the tale on whether or not we capitalize on the improvement we made today.
"I think we will. I think the kids will see we are headed in the right direction and will step their games up even more from here on out."
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