Ole Miss defense focused on decreasing yards after contact
OXFORD, Miss. – After last Saturday’s 47-27 win over South Alabama, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said he was pleased with the energy and effort of his unit, but he also pointed out the extra yards given up on the ground and said the Rebels would be working on lowering that number.
“There were way too many yards after contact. And that’s something we’re definitely going to pay attention to this week. I thought we populated the football very well, but there were just too many leaky yards.”
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff
Scouting UT-Martin: Skyhawks love to run
Ole Miss’ Saturday opponent, UT-Martin, loves to run the football. When they play the Rebels (11:00 am, SEC Alternate Network), the Skyhawks will try to duplicate the success they had against Division II Clarion in their 36-0 victory on opening night of the college football season.
In that game, UT-Martin rushed for 265 yards and three scores on 44 carries. Junior running back Ladarius Galloway rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Galloway averaged 9.2 yards per carry, while also racking up 41 yards on three receptions. Five different players scored touchdowns for UT-Martin, with two of the touchdowns going through the air from senior quarterback Troy Cook, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 192 yards. As a team, UT-Martin finished with 457 yards of total offense last week.
Linebackers working on technique
Ole Miss linebacker coach Bradley Dale Peveto was asked earlier this week what his players would be working on in practice to become better tacklers. “It’s technique. It’s fundamentals,” he said.
“One of the things that showed up on tape a lot was leaving our feet. When you tackle and you leave your feet you lose all your power, and we did that some. We had a drill today to work on that…bringing our hips and driving our feet. Our tackling will improve because of that.“
Coach Bradley Dale Peveto, linebackers coach
Coach Peveto went on to explain what drills, exactly, the linebackers were focused on this week. “We had a tackling circuit today,” he said Tuesday after practice. “We had four different stations. Every position was at that station for a couple of minutes. Everybody got that technique, that drill. We drilled them hard on it. We’re going to tackle and do a tackling circuit every day. That’s one of the things that we circled…Coach McGriff circled. We said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to be a better tackling defense.’
Coach Peveto said redshirt freshman Donta Evans played well in his first collegiate game last weekend.
“I thought he played well for his first start as a redshirt freshman. I thought he embraced it and did very, very well. I was very pleased with him,” Peveto said.
“There’s so much that goes into it. The communication, his eyes. I thought he tackled well. I thought he did a great job of setting our fronts and making our checks. I thought he did a really good job. That was his first game. That’s not easy under those big lights out there.”
Coach Peveto on Donta Evans
Peveto was also pleased with the play of linebacker DeMarquis Gates. “I thought he went out and really had a nice game,” Peveto said.
“He played well. He was physical. He did real good in his drops in the passing game, blitzed well, communicated, doing a good job leading our team. I was very pleased with him. Again, we’ve got a long ways to go, but I was proud for him again.”
Coach Peveto on DeMarquis Gates
In addition to Gates and Evans, Brenden Williams, Willie Hibbler, Tayler Polk, and Jarrion Street played some snaps on Saturday at linebacker.
Bing-Dukes and Webster set to return
Linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes and cornerback Ken Webster are back with the team after serving suspensions and both should play against UT-Martin.
Bing-Dukes’ experience will help the linebacker corps as the junior made 41 tackles last season, second-most amongst the linebackers. Webster is the team’s most experienced corner, and the senior could be a mentor to freshman corner D.D. Bowie when Bowie returns from a hand injury.
“It’s time for them to go. We are excited to get them back,” McGriff said of Bing-Dukes and Webster. “Don’t be surprised if they walk out with the first team; don’t be surprised if they walk out with the second unit, it all depends on how they practice this week.
“But we’re looking forward, excited to get those guys back, looking forward to what they can add to the defense.”
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
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 Rivals.com. 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.
I watched video of the tackling drills and was disappointed that many tacklers were not driving up through their tackles. Having played rugby for 43 years, I can attest that getting low and driving up has at least three big advantages. (1) it produces much more force; (2) it better enables the tackler to drive through the tackle due to the knees continuing to be bent; (3) getting low improves balance and makes it easier to adapt to a runner’s unexpected cuts. Tackling requires aggression, but aggression without getting low. balanced and driving the up through the tackle results in misses.