Dan Werner -

In last season's 23-20 overtime loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, the Rebs protected the football and kept the Tigers on their heels most of the night, almost pulling off a major upset in the process. Rebel Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner said more of the same will be necessary this year when Number 1 LSU rolls into Oxford.

There is no secret to LSU's success on defense.

They like to try to manhandle your front six or seven (including an RB and a TE) with their extremely talented front four, leaving seven defenders to cover four receivers, or less.

"If they are able to accomplish that, which they have been a good portion of the time, they are hard to deal with because the numbers play out in their favor," explained Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "We have to be able to protect our QB with our OL to balance things out for us. If they are making sacks with just their front four, we will have to keep more guys in to protect and that makes everything more difficult.

"That is similar to what happened at Auburn except LSU will blitz more and send up to seven to disrupt things and keep you off-balance. Auburn was content to just drop and cover - LSU will be more aggressive with their attack if we are neutralizing their front four. They will just send more."

With players like DT Glenn Dorsey, arguably the best defensive player in the nation the past two years, and DT Marlon Favorite, quickly developing his own reputation as a "load," it's easy to see why LSU's defense is one of the best in the nation.

"What can you say? Big, strong, fast, athletic, well-coached - anything else? Oh, they don't make many mistakes. They don't give up many big plays and when they do make a mistake they limit the gain to 6 or 8 yards instead of 30 or 40 because of their athleticism," Dan stated.

So what do you do to counteract the Tiger defense? Dan said the Rebs have to do what they did part of the game last year in the Rebs 23-20 overtime loss in Baton Rouge.

"You have to keep them off-balance and on their heels. Last year, we protected the football and we kept them off-balance by running a few times when they guessed pass and passing some when they guessed run," Werner stated. "We also kept the ball out of their hands most of the night and that helped our cause as well. We have to have good time of possession and move the chains.

"We will have to take some shots at them with some different things and see if they hit. They are not the kind of defense you can grind with the whole game. We have to keep them off-balance, slow them down and hit some big plays."

Dan said the bye week should rejuvenate everyone.

"We've had a long stretch without a break and it couldn't have come at a better time. We had some guys nicked up who should have healed somewhat and our legs should be fresh, so we feel good about everything," he added.

Despite LSU's defensive prowess, Werner says the Rebel offense will be looking forward to the nationally-televised (CBS) game against the number one team in the nation.

"The season has not been what we had hoped, but if we were able to knock off the number one team in the country in LSU and finish strong, it would be a great thing for our seniors and for this program," Werner stated. "You love playing the best - that's why you come to the SEC. You hope and wish for games like this."

The last time Ole Miss hosted a number one in the nation, Werner was the offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech and the Rebels were playing Florida in October of 1994.

The opportunities don't come along that often, so you have to cherish them, Werner said.

"You really have to take some of that with a grain of salt. We have to boil it down to just getting ready to play another really fine football team, but obviously we are human and there is added significance in playing number one," he noted. "They are what we want to be in terms of success. That is what every team in the nation shoots for - number one, so it does matter, but right now we are not running around worrying about that too much. We relish this opportunity, but we also played number three in the nation earlier in the year in Florida so this is nothing brand new. It's certainly exciting, but we aren't on completely foreign turf."


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