Ole Miss safety Trae Elston was excited about the second interception of his career but not about the Rebels’ tackling in their 76-3 season-opening win over Tennessee-Martin.
Ole Miss led the nation in scoring defense last year and kept the Skyhawks out of the end zone, but Martin averaged 3.0 yards per rush and hit an occasional big play.
“I think we can improve. I wasn’t satisfied. We wanted a goose egg. We weren’t tackling good, had a few little busts like on the wheel route in the third quarter. There’s always room for improvement. We should never be satisfied as a defense,” Elston said.
Much of the Skyhawks’ success came against a Rebels defense that substituted freely throughout the day.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack wasn’t surprised to see tackling issues and believes that’s an area he can improve quickly.
“I was concerned about that because I knew we didn’t tackle that much in fall camp and thought that would be a little bit of an issue going into the game. We worked the heck out of fundamental tackling but not live tackling and sometimes that’s an issue. We’ll address it and we’ll get better as we go on. He’s got a good reason to say that. Always after a first game get chance to do some stuff then point it out on film what we can do better from standpoint of tackling, tracking and getting to the ball. It will make a difference to them,” he said.
Wommack estimated that most of the starters played about 14 snaps.
“I think we were wise to get our team to the game healthy by not tackling (in camp). When you tackle against your own team you can hurt your own guys and your own guys on offense so I think we did the right thing,” he said.
Elston’s interception killed a UTM scoring opportunity.
“He was looking toward the post, and I just followed his eyes. I guess he didn’t see me. I followed Christian Russell and Nkemdiche down the sideline. You always try to dream what you’re going to do in a game. I always try to fantasize a pick. I really did get them my first three years. That’s a big achievement to get one the first game this year,” Elstson said.
Ole Miss and Auburn shared the SEC lead with 22 interceptions last year.