John Thompson -

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron has stated a couple of times recently the focus of his staff is not on who the Rebs are playing but on Rebel improvement. DC John Thompson believes he saw some of that against Louisiana Tech in the 24-0 Ole Miss win last Saturday. Read about it inside.

"It's not about them, it's about us," Ole Miss Coach Ed Oreron has said reppeatedly this year.

Everyone involved admits the "them" last weekend - Louisiana Tech - did not have an SEC-caliber offense, but they also noted the "us" part of the equation showed improvement.

"We are not disillusioned about who we were playing last week or who we have this week,," said Rebel Defensive Coordinator John Thompson. "No disrespect to Louisiana Tech, but we have Alabama this week and we understand the challenges and the differences.

"Having said that, we made progress against LaTech Saturday. It's a lot better to build off a win and we are starting to settle in a little more defensively. We are learning what we are and what we can do and we certainly know who can do some things more. I can be a lot more specific now in knowing what we need to work on than, say, three weeks ago."

J.T. was beating around the bush a little, being nice, but his meaning was clear. The Rebs had tons to correct a month ago and now the scope is narrowing of what needs fixing.

"A month ago, we needed 72 hours in one day to get everything right. Now, not as much," he smiled. "And we can approach this week with a different mindset.

"Saturday night, it was enjoyable to see our score come across the TV ticker and we had won. The last four weeks, the ticker would come across the screen and you'd want to throw up. And it was even better knowing we had made improvement along with winning. We had less missed assignments than we have had - we were in the right gaps more than the first five games. We still ahd too many missed tackles, but not as many as we have been havin. And we didn't have the breakout plays this week. We still have a lot of things to work on, but it should be more enjoyable doing it."

Now, time to move past the win and on to the task at hand - Alabama.

"We are getting more healthy now, other than Jamarca Sanford being questionable, so that has helped, but we have a big challenge this weekend in Alabama," he explained. "Alabama has a little bit of everything - power, a vertical game, speed at running back, depth at RB, a lot of wide receivers and one outstanding one in D.J. Hall, an athletic offensive line and experience at quarterback. John Parker Wilson is a good, solid quarterback who knows how to win. He's good and has experience. He's handling being the Alabama QB well, and that's a big deal there just like it is here.

"They will test you deep too and are very well-coached. They will try to exploit your weaknesses and find mismatches. We will have to be at the top of our game, but we expect to be."

J.T. is impressed with what Alabama Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite is doing with the Tide offense.

"There's a whole lot of offense to digest when you look at their cutups," said Thompson. "Coach Applewhite has been to several places to hone his skills and there's a blend of a lot of things incorporated into his offense. He's obviously a good coach."

The Rebels had to play most of the game against Tech without injured Jamarca Sanford and Kendrick Lewis, but Terrell Jackson stepped in at SS for Sanford and Johnny Brown for Lewis at FS.

"We were solid there with those two. We had one missed coverage for a long completion on the sidelines, but other than that, those two did good jobs," he stated. "But it was like that with the whole defense. We had some three-and-outs for a change and the guys were into fixing things and recognizing what they did wrong. The intensity level was good and the attention to detail was very good. We had some confidence and were having some fun. We didn't do everything right, but when we made a mistake the guys immediately knew it and corrected it. We weren't tentative at all, which was good to see. We had a different aura about us.

"I am also pleased to see a couple of young guys come on stronger, like LB Scottie Williams, who may start getting more snaps if he continues doing well in practice, and DE Kentrell Lockett, who has shown some quickness and is starting to play more consistently. Guys like that can help us a lot down the stretch."

Thompson, you'll recall, worked for Saban at LSU for a month before opting to go "back home" at be the DC for Arkansas.

He says some stories have circulated about his experience down there, and his departure, that simply are not true.

"None of the rumors were true. He did not put me out on the side of the road, we did not get in a fight or anything else you've heard," he laughed. "I learned a lot of football and a lot about recruiting in the brief time I was there. I have a ton of respect for Coach Saban. Anything else you hear is simply not true."

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