Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack was pleased with his guys pitching a shutout - 39-0 - against Tulane Saturday in the Superdome, but he couldn't resist a little self-effacing quip to the media afterwards.
"I am proud of the guys for bouncing back, but what is 66 divided by two?" he smiled. "I'm still coming off the shock of last week a little. I've never had that many points scored on me before, but I have had a few shutouts.
"We needed to bounce back. We were totally locked in, especially in the first half. The twos had a few issues with some penalties and what not, but I was proud of what the kids did out there today, especially coming off last week."
The Rebel defense only allowed 159 yards on 70 plays and twice denied the Green Wave from getting in the end zone - once on a first-half goal line stand, once on a Chief Brown late interception in the end zone.
"In the first half, we were just hitting everything right. We played with good eyes. If you lock into what you are doing, good things usually happen. We cut the gameplan down this week to make sure we would do things correctly and eliminate missed assignments, but it is tough to shut out anybody on this level," he continued. "Again, I am proud."
The Rebels consistently harassed Green Wave freshman QB Devin Powell, sacking him three times, hitting him numerous more times and intercepting him thrice.
"It's tough being a freshman QB in this situation," Dave said. "He just does not have the experience to deal with that, and we went after him a good bit."
Freshman Rover Trae Elston got his first start as a Rebel after a week's suspension by the SEC for hitting too hard (sarcasm intended). He led the team in tackles with six and had a QB sack.
"Trae is doing a great job back there. He does better and better each week. He has common sense out there. He understands the game and tries to fix things as he goes. I hope and expect he will just keep getting better," Wommack evaluated.
The Rebels also moved Charles Sawyer from Rover to CB.
"Wesley (McGriff) worked very hard with those guys this week and it was better. We do know the difference though in Tulane and Texas, no disrespect to Tulane intended," Dave stated.
The Rebs now hit the SEC, with number one Alabama at Tuscaloosa being first up in conference play.
"I think we have a long way to go. I am under no false pretenses of who we have played so far," Wommack noted. "There is a huge difference in Alabama and Tulane, we all know that, but we can play clean, eliminate mistakes and play hard, I know that.
"When you eliminate mistakes and play hard, you can do some positive things. We will not have the same talent level as Alabama, we all know that, but there is no reason to play like we did against Texas either. We brought a lot of that on ourselves and we need to be consistent in what we are doing. We have been up and down. We are 3-1, which is what I expected if I am being honest with myself, but now we head to the SEC and we have to find a way to win some games. It will be a heckuva challenge ahead of us, but that's what is great about playing in this league."
One would think Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner would be pleased with 304 yards rushing, 450 total yards and 39 points, but he was not a real happy camper after the game for obvious reasons.
"We fumbled six times and lost three," said Werner. "We won and I am happy with that, but putting the ball on the ground that many times is inexcusable. We have to tighten that up. That is three weeks in a row we have been plagued with turnovers and you cannot win in our league turning it over."
The turnovers did not spoil the day, obviously, but they did leave a bad taste in Werner's mouth.
"Last week, interceptions, this week, fumbles. We have to do a better job of coaching protecting the ball," he continued. "We did not do a very good job of keeping our focus in the second quarter.
"We looked as good as we have looked all year in the first quarter, getting ahead 26-0. Then the second quarter we looked like a sloppy football team. It's just not acceptable."
The Rebel run game continues to click, as it has all year, even against Texas, with nearly a 6-yard a clip average on 53 carries.
"Everyone is pitching in, which is good. Everyone is making nice runs. We give defenses some problems with all the ways we can hit them," he noted. "We just have to keep working it and keep getting better each week.
"To win championships, you have to run the ball, so we will continue to emphasize that."
Obviously, the Rebels did not have to throw much against Tulane, but Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti combined were an acceptable 12-23 for 146 yards and one TD when called upon.
"Tulane played a lot of man coverage, so when we did have to throw we felt comfortable we could beat our guy and make some plays," he noted. "We did OK there. The decision-making was pretty good, and that's the big thing for us."
Now the SEC looms. Where does Werner think the Reb offense is in being ready for that grind?
"We will find out next week, won't we?" he asked. "We have a great test next week. We will have to put together a great plan, play hard and protect the football. We'll see where that takes us if we are able to do that."
Next up: Alabama.