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Wommack preparing Rebels’ defense to put pressure on Riley Ferguson

Wommack preparing Rebels’ defense to put pressure on Riley Ferguson

Oxford, Miss. – Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson hasn’t been pressured in the Tigers’ first three games this season, but Ole Miss’ defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is preparing to change that this Saturday.

Ferguson has appeared comfortable in leading Memphis’ offense in its three wins this season over Southeast Missouri State, Kansas and Bowling Green. The Tigers outscored all three teams 70-3 in the first quarter and 118-13 in the first half.

Statistically, those three opponents did not match up well with the Tigers’ high-powered offense. Southeast Missouri State, an FCS school, ranks No. 70 in total defense, while Kansas ranks 52nd in the FBS and Bowling Green ranks dead last (128th) in the FBS in total defense.

Riley Ferguson vs. Paxton Lynch?

Wommack isn’t ready to compare Ferguson to former Tiger quarterback and current Denver Bronco Paxton Lynch but admits Ferguson is a talented player.

“It’s hard to say because in their first three games, he hasn’t really been tested,” Wommack said when asked how Ferguson is similar to Lynch.

I think he’s got a really strong arm; he’s got a pretty good command of what they’re trying to do offensively right now. I can’t sit there and say he’s Lynch yet, though.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack on Tigers’ QB

Lynch got the best of the Rebels’ defense last season, completing 39-of-53 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns. He was able to hit 10 different receivers and was only sacked twice.


Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson has completed 61-of-91 passes for 843 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. (Photo credit: Memphis Athletics)

Entering Saturday’s game, No. 16 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) ranks 96th in the FBS in total defense. The Rebels’ best effort came last week in their 45-14 win over Georgia, when they were able to get to freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, who was sacked three times, threw an interception and coughed up a fumble.

Ole Miss will look to apply that same pressure on Ferguson, who has a passing efficiency rating of 180.34. For the season, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound quarterback has completed 61-of-91 passes for 843 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ferguson has only thrown two interceptions, which came in the Tigers’ season-opening win against Southeast Missouri State.

On Monday, Ferguson was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Ole Miss cornerbacks coach Jason Jones discussed what his team will need to do in order to be successful against Ferguson.

Ferguson can make all the throws. He can throw the boundary throws, he can throw the field outs. You have to do a great job of being disciplined with all the RPOs (run-pass options) they run. Guys can’t do somebody else’s job. They have to do their own job and trust a teammate.

Ole Miss cornerbacks coach Jason Jones


Ole Miss senior defensive back Carlos Davis and redshirt freshman defensive back Montrell Custis were held out of practice on Sunday after suffering stingers in Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs. However, both Custis and Davis practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday and looked to be fine according to Coach Freeze’s assessment.

Outside of playing on defense, Davis is also the team’s kickoff and punt returner, while Custis has played in all four games this season, recording seven tackles.

Jeremy Liggins has participated in practice this week. He was fully reinstated for the Georgia game, after being held out for violating team standards, but suffered body cramps during the week, which kept him out of last Saturday’s game with the Bulldogs.

Game Information

Date: Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016
Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Live Stats and Audio:

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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