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Ole Miss DC Wesley McGriff pleased with defense’s energy, improvement at linebacker position

Ole Miss DC Wesley McGriff pleased with defense’s energy,  improvement at linebacker position

OXFORD, Miss. – Thus far, with the first three of 15 total practices of spring camp in the books, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is pleased with the energy of his defense and says the unit will continue to work on improving awareness and intelligence on the field in order to play more aggressively.

There are a lot young faces on this year’s defensive unit who just need a little time to gain confidence, build their football IQ, and go through the right conditioning in order to play at the Southeastern Conference level.

Losing 15 guys on defense from a season ago is challenging–especially when those players include quality guys like Marquis Haynes, Breeland Speaks, and DeMarquis Gates. But Coach McGriff knows if his defense can work on the mental part of its game, the Rebels’ defense will only get better.

“I want to see us develop more football intelligence,” McGriff explained.

If we can improve our awareness and intelligence, we will automatically play faster and more guys will be able to populate the football quicker. When your football IQ increases, you can be in the right place at the right time more often and eliminate the explosive plays.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff

McGriff further outlined his plans for the unit. “I want us to be more physical and more aggressive and the only way to do that is to have a lot of confidence in what you are doing and a lot of endurance,” he said. “If you have good awareness, communicate well and have good confidence, you will become a more physical defense flaying to the ball and hitting someone,” he added.

Improvement at linebacker position

Detric Bing-Dukes (43)
Photo: Josh McCoy

One of the positions McGriff feels is improving is that of linebacker. “The group, collectively, is getting better. Coach (Jon) Sumrall is doing a great job bringing them along. They will just continue to get better.”

McGriff pointed out that senior linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes has made positive strides from last season.

The guy who has improved the most is Detric Bing-Dukes. He made some plays the last couple of days he wasn’t making last year. His awareness is better and his speed has improved due to him being more confident in his assignments, He’s also leading some.

Coach McGriff on LB Detric Bing-Dukes 

In addition to Bing-Dukes, McGriff is also pleased with linebackers Josh Clarke, Zikerrion Baker, and Mohamed Sanogo. Bing Dukes is the most experienced of the linebackers, as the Tucker, Georgia native currently has 65 total tackles and three tackles for a loss of eight yards on his resume with the Rebels.

As of now, Bing-Dukes and Willie Hibbler have been practicing with the first-team defense, while Clarke and Mohamed Sanogo have been the starting linebackers for the second unit, but with it still very early in spring practice, McGriff isn’t ready to name his starters at any position as he’s still observing everyone’s performance.

Right now, we don’t have a group of starters. We are all training right now to find out what’s going to be the best mix with the guys that are going to come out the tunnel first. That’s what spring ball is all about, to find out who can do it once you get out there in game situation.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff


Brown and Little in Indy for NFL Symposium

Sophomore wide receiver A.J. Brown and sophomore left tackle Greg Little were not at Saturday’s practice as they were in Indianapolis, Indiana for the NFL symposium, which began Friday and ended Sunday.  The joint venture between the NCAA and the NFL is an educational program for potential first-round draft picks, and the players invited are selected by the NFL.

Spring practices continue

The next practice with media availability will be Tuesday, March 6. The rest of this week’s practices will be closed to the media and the public, and the team will be off next week for spring break.

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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