The Rebel defense has not had a lot to crow about this season. That's why the 24-0 shutout of…
The special teams came up with a blocked punt and subsequent scoop-and-score by CB Dustin Mouzon.
The offense sputtered some, but came up with enough plays to secure the victory.
But more importantly, the 24-0 W-I-N over visiting Louisiana Tech released the pressure valve some and relieved the minds of all involved.
"Our guys did a great job, especially with the blocked punt at the end. They just kept coming all day," said Defensive Coordinator John Thompson. "Our third downs were good, we caused some turnovers and we were in a better rhythm. I was real happy with everything, basically.
"Our linebackers played much better and our secondary covered very well. Our guys have worked hard - they have been grinding, and it's just good to see them have some success and do better. Now we have another win under our belts and we can move forward."
Assignment busts have been an issue with the defense in the losses. That wasn't as prevalent against the Bulldogs.
"We were in the right spots. We still missed some tackles, we all saw that, but we were not as assignment haywire as we have been," he continued. "Louisiana Tech threw some wrinkles at us and we were able to get things fixed better on the sidelines. Our guys were into it.
"We didn't get the sacks we were looking for, but we never allowed their quarterback to get real comfortable. We flushed him out of there several times and did some good things with our pressure packages. We just executed better overall."
The Rebels started Brandon Thomas, Ashlee Palmer and Jamie Phillips at linebacker against LaTech.
"Brandon earned the start by being consistent in practice. He played all three positions during the week with Ashlee banged up a little. He was consistent and did some good things out there. Jamie played well and Ashlee had, what, 15 tackles?" he said. "I was much more pleased with the LB play today.
"We did more drill work and fit work this week in practice. I'm telling you, we were grinding. And it paid off. We did more 'here's how we've got to play' stuff, if you understand what I'm saying. And those three guys were just more consistent in practice and in the game today. Being in the right place made a big difference in the way we played today."
The Rebels held LaTech to 4-17 on third down attempts, a key to the win.
"We covered well. We got a little pressure with the four-man rush and we were in the right places at the right times. We just played better, overall, and that was reflected in our third down stops," he said.
The coverage was "better," Thompson said, despite SS Jamarca Sanford (stinger) going down and FS Kendrick Lewis being banged up. They were replaced by Johnny Brown and Terrell Jackson, who Thompson was very pleased with.
"Jamarca is our guy back there and he went down. They played well, I think, in his absence. Certainly the tape will tell the whole tale, but we didn't give up any big plays and I thought, as I said, our coverage was good overall," J.T. added. "I also think the coverage was aided by our not letting their QB set his feet much. Greg (Hardy) got back there several times and I think Kentrell Lockett had a sack.
"We felt we could pressure with our front four and we were able to for the most part. We didn't send too many people, but when we did, I thought we were effective with it."
Obviously, from a confidence standpoint, the win has to help the cause.
"It had gotten old banging our heads against the wall and not getting anything out of it," J.T. said. "It was fun today. At the end, I didn't want to say anything about the shutout, but going for that gave us a boost as well. Our guys are trying, man, they are trying hard. And to see them have some success and have some fun is a big boost for all of us.
"They care. They try. And it paid off today, which really means a lot to me for them."
Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner's side of the ball did not have the kind of day they were hoping for, but he was just as happy as J.T.
"Winning is all that matters. As I said after the Memphis game, you will never get me to complain about a win," Werner smiled. "We needed this one badly and I'm pleased we got it. I don't apologize after wins. (laughs)"
Having said that, the Rebs could only muster 232 yards of total offense and only 65 of that came on the ground.
"They loaded the box with nine guys to stop the run and rolled their safeties out when they read pass. That kind of took away some of the underneath stuff we like to use. We were forced to go deep more than we would like to, and that resulted in three picks, but we were able to get some things going when we needed to," Dan stated. "We had opportunties to make more plays, for sure, but our execution was just a little off here and there.
"With what they do defensively, our best options were with deeper routes and we weren't as crisp there as we have been. We did, though, get a couple of interference calls on deep balls that helped our cause and are as good as a completion. It was obvious that Louisiana Tech told heir DBs if they got beat to take the interference penalty."
Dan, like Thompson, feels the Rebs will get a needed boost from the victory.
"We obviously have things to correct and work on offensively, but doing it with a win under our belts is a lot more fun than afte a loss," he noted. "Winning cures a lot of things and it also makes correcting mistakes easier.
"We probably won't grade out real well this week, but I'd rather play average and win than play real well and lose. We've tried the other way and it's no fun. Winning is what it's all about and we accomplished that today."
Dan, again like Thompson, believes the Rebs can build off the victory.
"It will be a lot more pleasant preparing for Alabama with a win to work off of. There's no question about that," he closed.
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