Two teams that rarely see one another don’t have many connections, but there is an interesting one between Ole Miss and Georgia Tech.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack had an eventful two-year run as coordinator for Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech in 2008 and 2009.
His first defense was very good, helping the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl in Johnson’s first season. His second one was not, and Wommack left Atlanta after 2009.
Wommack is a low-key guy, and I doubt we’ll hear him say much about the rematch.
I’m also sure there’s appeal in the idea of a strong defensive performance against Tech.
The Rebels have had spotty success against the run, currently No. 53 in America, No. 9 in the SEC at 155.3 yards a game allowed.
Tre Mason didn’t run wild against the Rebels, but Nick Marshall did. Auburn at the time was not the efficient rushing offense it would become.
Georgia Tech is sixth in the nation in rushing, first in the ACC with 311.7 yards a game. That still only managed the Yellow Jackets a 7-5 record.
Aside from Virginia Tech, which won a 17-10 game, others who handled the Jackets outscored them. BYU won 38-20, and Tech had 30 points or more in its three remaining losses.
Wommack’s knowledge of Johnson’s offense will be beneficial more than the extra time to prepare that so many talk about for a bowl game.
Any extra prep time is coveted by coaches, but the Rebels got back on the field on Friday – 17 days before an afternoon kickoff in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
When you factor in a Christmas break, the Rebels’ extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech amounts to little more than a mid-season open date.
Tech rushed for 263 yards but hurt Georgia with 232 passing yards in a 41-34 overtime loss to the Bulldogs to end the regular season.
Georgia is on the Tech schedule at the end of each year and prepares for the option offense – to some degree – in August.
Maybe the Rebels see a little more passing from Tech, given Wommack’s familiarity with the way it does things.
The best plan for Ole Miss will be to ignite an offense that has struggled and put up some points on a defense that has had issues defending the pass.
Tech’s option will force the Rebels to be assignment sound and make one-one-one tackles.
Wommack gives them an asset to give it their best shot.
Parrish Alford (email@example.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.