There was a lot of talk in the preseason about this Ole Miss defense being better than last year’s, which led the nation in scoring defense at 16.0 points per game allowed.
The unit hasn’t been better, and hasn’t been as good. Injuries have been a part of that, and that got worse, not better, this week with the news that linebacker C.J. Johnson would miss four to six weeks after surgery on a torn meniscus.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack believes the Rebels can show great improvement quickly if they can clean up some things like tackling and positioning.
“We have not executed on some of those as well as we need to execute. Just like the other night in the game. The second series of the game we get out there, and it’s third-and-3, and AJ’s got him for a 2-yard loss, but kind of dive tackles. I love AJ, but we’ve got to make that play. It’s about making the play. We’re close,” Wommack said.
The missed opportunity on third down left a live a Gators’ drive that finished with a 36-yard touchdown on the very next play. Mike Hilton was out of position on the touchdown.
Hilton moves to Huskie this week, and Moore drops to backup Huskie. Sophomore C.J. Hampton enters the lineup at free safety.
Two Ole Miss defenders nearly collided on a short underneath pass that Florida’s Brandon Powell turned into a 77-yard touchdown.
Five games into the season Ole Miss is seventh in the SEC in total defense (357.2 ypg), 11th in scoring defense (23.0 ppg) and 12th in third-down conversion defense (40 percent).
“We’ve just got to clean up the little things. We had a missed tackle for 77 yards, taking a bad angle, a missed tackle for 36 yards with a bad angle. All of a sudden people have 250 yards instead of 350. One or two plays can make a huge difference.”