What's going on with Jonathan Cornell? That was a commonlya-sked question prior to game against Vanderbilt.
While he had registered a couple of QB sacks and a few tackles for losses in the first three games, he just did not seem as active as he had been in the spring and in the month leading up to the opening games.
Against Vandy, he became more visible and said he feels like his old self again after missing most of last year with a shoulder injury.
"After the Vandy game, I didn't feel like I had done enough, but after watching the film I realized I had done some good things and was playing a lot faster than I did in the previous three games," said Cornell, who registered five tackles against the Dores. "Spread offenses, like we played in the first three games, can be difficult to sink your teeth in at MLB, but Vandy was a bit more conventional.
"I finally got into a rhythm and now I expect to stay there, no matter what kind of offense we face. Even in high school, it used to take me a couple of games to get used to game speed and then I would be alright. It's the same in college. I feel like I'm playing downhill now."
Cornell was not surprised Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was upbeat Sunday after Saturday's crushing loss to the Dores.
"He conveyed a great message to us. He told us we are very close to being a very good team and that's how we feel on the team too. Coach Nutt shows us on film how close we are. He does a great job of keeping us abreast of how we are progressing and he leaves us where we can't wait to get back to practice on Tuesday," Jonathan explained. "We know we are so close. It is frustrating to be so close, but it's also motivating for us.
"From the outside looking in, I'm sure our fans are wondering if we are any good, but we don't feel that way. We can feel ourselves getting better and we now understand what areas we need to have extra focus in. We get it that we have made a lot of mistakes and that we can't afford to make those kinds of errors, but we are also focused to correct them. Nobody on this team is down."
Jonathan was injured before the Florida game last year, but he vividly recalls watching it from the sidelines.
"They ran the quarterback power a lot, so I am sure we will work that a lot this week, but from what I have seen earlier this year they are trying to be more multiple with (Tim) Tebow," Cornell stated. "I think (Chris) Nickson gave us a little preview of what a running quarterback can do, so that may help us this week against Florida.
"We practiced hard last week on containing the QB, so we are kind of tuned in to that mindset right now. Containing the QB and collapsing the pocket will continue to be the focus, I'm sure."
Cornell said the biggest thing about facing Florida from a defensive standpoint is to not get caught up in all the formations and disguises.
"They are more dynamic in the way they present plays and formations than Vandy is, but as long as you read your keys, you will be alright. The rest is just window dressing," he said. "They have tremendous skill athletes, no doubt, but what they do is not that tricky if you prepare yourself and don't get caught up in the presentation."
Jonathan says he's looking forward to visiting the Swamp.
"A guy that went to my high school, Ryan Smith, played for Florida a few years back and I was talking to him recently," Jonathan noted. "He said it's crazy and loud down there. I imagine it's going to be real hostile, but I like that.
"I'm looking forward to it. I feel like everyone on this team is excited about going down there and matching up with them in their yard. We are certainly not sitting around crying about what's happened. If you live in the past, you lose in the future."
The Rebels are 2-2 and, to a man, feel they should be 4-0. They know they have not scratched the surface of their potential.
Cornell, for one, is ready to not only scratch it, but leave a scar.
Jonathan Cornell -
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