Ole Miss junior Strong Safety Jamarca Sanford said there's only one place to look in the search to shore up the poor defensive play that has plagued the Rebels thus far this season. . .
. . . in the mirror.
"It's all on us, teh players. We are the ones out there. We are the ones who are missing the tackles and assignments," Sanford, one of the team leaders, said. "The coaches can only do so much. They drill us all week and put us in position to make plays, but they can't hold our hands out there. We have to make tackles and make plays. It's really that simple.
"I don't think anyone who knows football who watches us play can think otherwise. It's on us to get it done when you see that many missed tackles in a game."
What's the fix?
"We have to prepare ourselves to get the job done. It's too late when the kickoff is in the air. You have to be prepared during the week and you have to prepare yourself for the game. To tackle the backs and skill people we face each week, you have to be mentally prepared to get it done from start to finish," he stated. "Everyone is going to miss tackles. The backs in this league are going to make you look bad sometimes, but not like we have been missing them.
"We look at film of our games and can't believe what we are seeing. We are better than how we are performing. A lot better, but none of that matters unless you go out there and get it done."
Jamarca feels the Rebel defense has to go back to basics in terms of mental preparation.
"We have to be determined to play four quarters as a team, not three quarters or pieces of quarters," Sanford continued. "We have to quit making so many mistakes and missing so many tackles. We have to build some consistency and momentum."
Even though the Reb defense gave up a lot of yards and 30 points to Florida, they felt they were on to something and could build off that effort by correcting just a few things.
It started out that way against Georgia with some good defensive stands and some solid - not spectacular, but acceptable - play for three quarters. Then, the bottom fell out.
"That fourth quarter against Georgia was very frustrating because we felt we had turned the corner against Florida with just a few things to clean up. We felt we were primed to play a great game against Georgia and we played pretty good for a long time. Then, it all fell apart. Georgia was good - they had excellent backs, but we didn't do our jobs. If you aren't well-coached or aren't capable of doing the job, then explain why you could do it for three quarters?" he said. "Georgia just ran us over and that's unacceptable."
Sanford feels the Rebels are at another crossroads this weekend with Louisiana Tech.
"We need a win, any win. It would mean a lot to us to turn this thing around and get going back in the right direction after taking a step back against Georgie," he closed. "It will boost our confidence.
"We still have confidence, but a spark here and there wouldn't hurt. We need to build some real momemtum based on performance in games. It will be up to us. All the coaches can do is put you in position to make plays. In the end, it's up to us to make them."
Jamarca Sanford -
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