"The game film from Georgia showed me exactly what I thought it would," said Thompson after reviewing the contest with last week's version of the Rebs versus the Bulldogs. "I see some good things we did and some poor things we did, just like I thought.
"The critical defensive series was after our offense did such a great job to start the second half with a long drive that tied the score at 17-all, the defense can't stop them. We missed some tackles and they scored, taking the momentum back and from there blowing us out."
That breakdown perplexed Thompson because he was fairly pleased with the first-half performance besides one of two plays.
"Other than giving up the long run on third-and-19 for a score early in the second quarter, I thought we were playing well. We stressed what they were going to do in the second half at halftime and I thought the kids understood the adjustments, but we didn't get it done," he continued. "It's a mindset, to me. It's so critical to come out ready to play after your offense does something good. It keeps your team's momentum going, but we deflated everything.
"What I'm saying is that we had opportunities and we did good things some of the time. We stopped them early, but we aren't making the plays when we have to make them on a consistent enough basis and we aren't creating turnovers at all right now."
One of Thompson's biggest "complaints" is the lack of turnovers the Rebel defense is forcing.
"We did a good job of that against Memphis and haven't since," he shook his head. "When your tackling is sub-standard, you obviously are not getting enough people around the ball to create that repetitive popping and hitting. When you get enough people swarming, the ball will come out more often.
"We are still poor tacklers and that's strange because we have worked on that aspect of the game more in the past two weeks or so than I can ever remember in my career this deep into the season, and we apparently are going to have to keep working it hard. And good tackling goes hand in hand with forcing turnovers."
J.T. said the Rebel defenders are not playing very confidently in regards to tackling.
"We seem unsure and we aren't attacking ballcarriers with any authority," noted John. "We have to swarm and we have to attack and we have to play with aggressiona and confidence. We seem to be tackling timidly to avoid making a mistake or something, but we are going to get out of that."
John said the team is hurting - mentally - right now, but he believes they are sticking together.
"They were all in here yesterday on their own looking at film on their own trying to figure out what was going wrong and what they could do to correct it," he explained. "They are sticking together, tyring to work it out as a unit and trying to get it better. I don't know what more you could ask in terms of effort and want-to. But they are hurting - they don't like losing. We have to make sure we prop them back up this week and get them going in the right direction."
J.T. was very pleased with the play of the defensive linemen for most of the contest.
"Peria Jerry played a dominating game. He was awesome. Our linebackers did some things very well at times, but those breakout runs killed us," he stated. "They got us good, like that 3rd and 19 run for a TD.
"We were in man and Georgia called timeout, so we switched to zone to get more eyes on the ball. We thought that was the perfect call for that situation and we overran the pursuit and it's a TD. Those are the things you cannot have. When you have someone 3rd and 19, you bury them, no matter what they run. Sure, we were looking for a pass, but we were in a good run defense as well."
Thompson refused to blame injury on the way the Rebs are playing, despite starting LB Jonathan Cornell being out, DE Greg Hardy missing a half, CB Dustin Mouzon missing a half, DT Jeremy Garrett not playing at all, Peria getting dinged up in the game, Jamarca getting shook up before the half, etc.
"Everybody is hurt right now. Everybody is missing players. We were not able to do some things we wanted to do in some of our coverages, but you have to adjust and fight through those things - everyone else is," he said. "We miss Jonathan's knowledge and ability. He was a calming factor for everyone. But we have to face facts - he ain't there, so we have to get our other guys better. That's what everyone else is facing, we must too."
Thompson assessed Louisiana Tech's offense.
"They'll come in here with an experienced quarterback, two good running backs, some big tight ends who they use a lot and they have a real balanced scheme and attack," J.T. closed. "We are excited about getting ready for them and getting back to work.
"What we have to do is continue to build on the things we are doing well and eliminate the things we aren't. Number one is to stay together, which these kids will do."
John Thompson -
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