Ole Miss defense looking to show it can stop the run
Ole Miss sits at 2-0 heading into its first true road test of the season tonight at the University of California (2-0), and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is looking for his defense to step up and stop the run.
“We certainly have to get better at stopping the run and containing the running backs,” McGriff said earlier this week. “An issue we have to pay attention to and must get corrected is tackling,” he added.
Having faced UT Martin’s Lardarius Galloway, who rushed for 195 yards last week against the Rebels, offers McGriff’s unit an opportunity to learn and put to the test what they worked on this week in practice, as Cal’s offense presents a similar situation.
The Golden Bears’ offense has been fairly efficient in the running game, averaging 168.5 yards per game, which is currently 6th-best in the Pac-12. While watching film on Cal, McGriff paid close attention to running back Patrick Laird who will be the starter following the injury to starter Tre Watson. Laird has already rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns this season.
“[Laird]…had a great run in the last contest in the four-minute offense, 73 yards to close out the game,” McGriff said.
‘At the end of the day, you’ve got to want to get him down’
Ole Miss junior defensive end Victor Evans was asked earlier this week about the Rebels’ tackling issues and gave a simple answer:
“Tackling, at the end of the day, is want,” Evans said.
“You’ve just got to want to tackle. You’ve got to want to get him down. You can practice on it all day, and practicing helps, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to want to get him down.”
Victor Evans, Ole Miss DE
Evans has played a solid role for Ole Miss thus far this season, tallying eight tackles and a half-sack and leading the Rebels with 3.5 tackles for loss. The Dallas, Texas native is confident Ole Miss’ can solve its tackling woes.
“It’s really all mental. It’s not that we’re untalented, because we really have a talented defense, everybody from the one’s to the three’s,” he said. “It’s more of a mental thing and alignment. Once we get that, we should be fine,” he added.
Evans and the Rebels will take the field against Cal at 9:30 pm (CT) tonight. The game will be televised on ESPN.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)