Rebel D Humming

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix doesn't want to get too giddy - he's constantly searching for improvement from his troops, but even the stern taskmaster has to be somewhat pleased with the way his defense is responding early in spring training. Read about it inside.

Jerrell Powe.

Kentrell Lockett.

Ted Laurent.

Lawon Scott.

Jonathan Cornell, Wayne Dorsey, Johnny Brown, Allen Walker, D.T. Shackelford, Joel Kight, Fon Ingram.

Wayne Dorsey

All those names, and a few more, in combination, tend to make the life of a defensive coordinator much more peaceful.

Ask Rebel DC Tyrone Nix.

As good as that all sounds though, even he won't take the luxury of being too satisfied. That's not in any coach's genes.

"Typically every spring, the defense is going to be ahead of the offense," Nix said after the first scrimmage Friday. "We are still having some missed assignments, but what I am most proud of was their enthusiasm and the way they are running to the ball."

It's all about experience. Well, that and a heavy dose of solid talent. The combination bodes well.

"I see our leadership stepping up from some of our older guys like Powe, Scott, Laurent and Lockett. They are coming out here every day trying to get better and when the younger guys see that approach, it's a great example," Tyrone stated. "Those young guys see the price they have paid and continue to pay to play at a high level and it rubs off on them."

The pre-spring concern on the defensive side of the ball was replacing three starters on the back end of the defense - two corners and the free safety. Only Johnny Brown returns in the secondary as a starter.

Marcus Temple

"So far I have seen some good and some bad," Nix allowed. "I want more consistency. The guys with the first unit did a good job with their assignments and their technique, and they tackled fairly well overall.

"It's hard to say about the backups right now because our one DL is pretty stout and it forces the ball to come out quicker, giving the secondary guys a better chance to make plays. It cleans up things quicker, but I am pleased with the progress. The challenge is to come out here and get better every day, but the bottom line is that the better the front plays, the better it will allow our secondary to be. We just have to keep coming."

Nix had praise for his younger linebackers - D.T. Shackelford, Joel Kight, Mike Marry and Alex Williams.

"D.T. and Joel are night and day improved from last fall," Nix assessed. "Mike has also picked things up very quickly. They have progressed at a rapid place. They are not where they need to be yet, but they have good general knowledge that has allowed them to make plays. It will get better and better for them as they keep working.

Alex Williams

"Alex is progressing, too. Early on, I wasn't quite sure, but lately he has done some positive things and I think he could evolve into a contributor next year. He's in the mix and if he continues to improve, he'll get his chance to play."

Two bright lights in the newcomer arena are the JUCOs - Dorsey and SS Damien Jackson.

"I am very happy with both of them. Both of them are mature and have done some positive things. They have been more physical than I thought they would be and both have tremendous athletic ability," Tyrone noted. "It's just a matter of them growing up and becoming consistent with the way we want them to play on this level, but I am excited about both of them."

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