Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin and Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix were happy with the 34-10 win over Samford from a score perspective, but both know their respective units have to play better when SEC play opens next week against 3-0 Vanderbilt, who already has an SEC victory over South Carolina in their hip pockets.
"We will take any win - they are hard to come by and precious," said Austin, "but we still have to get a lot better in all areas of offense. We didn't play as well as we needed to tonight.
"We better get a lot better this week because now we hit the SEC."
Austin said sophomore Quarterback Jevan Snead, who was 13-24 for 222 yards, two interceptions and no TDs, was "off."
"Jevan was kind of loose with his mechanics. You haved nights like that. He struggled and missed a lot of throws that for him are pretty easy," Kent continued. "We'll work hard on getting some of those technical flaws corrected. We'll watch the film and get it straight."
Austin was not consoled by having open receivers and coming away with incompletions.
"It was encouraging to have open guys in the first game or two, but I'm tired of being encouraged. We are underthrowing or overthrowing too many right now," Kent stated. "We have to start connecting on those. It's been long enough - there's no excuse any more.
"You can't have guys running down the field open for TDs and miss them. Just can't do it."
Austin was pleased with the 5-play, 91-yard drive before halftime that went like you draw it up, but not so much with the second half.
"That was one where we did execute. We threw the ball well, made the right reads, caught it well and executed it the way we are supposed to. I thought it was something we could build on for the second half, but we really didn't improve much in those periods," he noted.
Houston Nutt said the Rebs simplified their running game to try to get better execution.
"We needed to cut back on some of the things we were doing and rep a few things more during the week. We wanted to knock people off the ball more consistently and get our backs to get downhill quicker," Austin stated. "I saw some of that, definitely, but we still have a long way to go.
"We are not close to where we need to be offensively at this point."
So where does the offense stand after three games in terms of where the coaches thought they'd be right now?
"That's hard to say. We're learning more about each individual and collectively, which is helping us as coaches because we can continue to refine what we are doing," Kent closed. "The more we know about everyone, the more we can put them in positions as indivuals and as a unit to have success. But, as I said, we have work to do."
Nix saw the good and bad of the defensive unit.
"Statistically, we were better and we won, so those are good things, but we still have to compete harder every snap," said Nix. "We make a play and give up a play. We have to get more consistent."
The Rebs revamped the defensive line for this game, getting Peria Jerry and Ted Laurent back from injury and moving Marcus Tillman from DT to DE.
"Peria made a couple of big plays and that's what you look for from a difference-maker," Tyrone assessed. "I saw him step up and make some crucial stops and he made a heckuva play on a screen.
"I also thought Emmanuel Stephens showed up well playing with more rest. He seemed fresher. He made a couple of nice plays on some option plays."
The other "new" starter was CB Marshay Green.
"I thought Marshay did a pretty good job except for one play when he was supposed to be out there and wasn't and we had 10 men on the field," Nix sgtated. "Fortunately, it didn't cost us and we got the goalline stand on that series."
Nix said he saw some busts in coverage and he also took the blame for one big play Samford completed.
"We had a linebacker out of position a time or two and we had some coverage mistakes. They were mostly little things I think we can iron out," Tyrone continued. "One completion was my fault with the call I made."
Nix scoffed at the idea the Rebels were underestimating Samford.
"We can't underestimate anyone," he said. "Samford had scored a lot of points coming into this game and their first series started on the 40. They drove down and missed a field goal."
So, is the Rebel defense ready for the SEC?
"We're going to find out quickly. We are going to put 11 guys out there who want to compete and see where it takes us, and hopefully we'll get Greg Hardy back for some action soon too," Nix ended. "I'm anxious to see the answer to that question too."
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