Defensive Coordinator John Thompson didn't want to spend a lot of time rehashing the Arkansas game, so we didn't ask him to. But he ended up speaking volumes.
After he got going, he couldn't stop about the 44-8 setback.
"The film of the game was not pretty - at all. We got it handed to us. They outplayed us. We have to play better. It was a long, long frustrating afternoon," Thompson noted. "We lost momentum so early and we got down. It wasn't a thing about not trying or effort, it was about losing our sharp edge. We just didn't get it done."
At this stage of Coach Ed Orgeron's program building, the Rebels cannot lose their spark, their edge, and expect to win. Or as was the case last Saturday, to even compete.
"We have to play mistake-free and at the top of our game every week to be in games and to have chances to win games, and we should be able to do that defensively," he explained. "This late in the season we ought to be playing better, period. We have improved our tackling some and we are not having as many missed assignments, but we can't lose our spark and expect to win.
"It was a game where nobody was a factor for us. Nobody stepped up and made a big play like Greg Hardy did last week against Alabama. We were just kind of there. You have to play defense with all kinds of fire and that elevates you to the top of your game. We just didn't have that. I'm throwing last Saturday out. I'm not calling that a step back. We played sorry and Arkansas played well. That's a bad combo for us. We had done better prior to that so we are going to reflect on the things we had done prior to that game and go from there."
The next step? Some heart-to-heart talks and hard work.
"You have to make the players understand that there are times there are going to be disappointments and things don't go the way you plan all the time in football or in life. The key is getting back up every single day with the knowledge that simple act of getting back up is what makes a man, a player, a team successful. It's easy to get up when things are going well. You have to show what kind of man you are when things aren't going well," he noted. "As teachers, that is what we will have to teach. When our guys say 'OK, I'm not going to take it' then we will have something. Hopefully we are teaching those values.
"But this week I'd love for the lesson to be that you get rewarded for hard work with victory because these players have certainly done everything we have asked of them without fail and they deserve a reward."
J.T. played Chris Strong at DT and got longer looks at LBs Tony Fein, Allen Walker and Lamar Brumfield. What were his impressions?
"I think all those guys played well. We moved Chris late in the week to the D-line and he seemed really excited about it. He did well. Allen made a lot of tackles. He'll help us. We weren't sure what how he was going to respond, but now I think we have a better grasp and he can help more. Tony stepped in and did some real good things. Lamar played when Ashlee Plamer got nicked and did OK. All those guys will help us with some depth and rotations, especially this time of the year when you need relief," he assessed.
There was talk during the week Jamarca Sanford might be back from injury. Thompson said that is huge for the defense if it pans out.
"He's our leader back there. His experience is invaluable. He can get us lined up and the guys can look to him for a lot of things. We need him back and hopefully we will get him back this week," J.T. added. "That would be a big bright spot for us."
John is looking for the passion to come back this week as the Rebs prepare for Auburn.
"We are going to get back our attitude this week. We are going to get back our edge. We are going to get back our aggression. That is what defense is all about and that's what we'll have against Auburn," he closed.
John Thompson -
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