By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Dave Wommack won’t make the Music City Bowl a personal mission, but it’s clear that his head coach thinks Wommack’s history can benefit Ole Miss against the Georgia Tech option.
The Rebels will have to find a way to slow the nation’s No. 5-ranked rushing offense when they face the Yellow Jackets Dec. 30 in the Music City Bowl.
“Dave’s been around it, and I think we’ll have a good plan,” Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said.
Wommack, the Rebels’ defensive coordinator, was around it every day for two years. He coordinated defense for Tech’s Paul Johnson during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Johnson’s first two as head coach. The first one was pretty good. Wommack left after the second.
Wommack says his Music City motivation comes from his current job, not his past one.
“There is (motivation), because it’s the next game. I want this team to win eight games and improve from last year,” he said. “Absolutely it’s a challenge going against Paul. Paul’s a great coach, and he’s won a lot of games.”
Johnson has done it with an option offense that punishes defenses who are out of position and lax in assignments.
The players will be different, but Wommack will have a good idea of Johnson’s tendencies.
Line coach Mike Sewak and two other offensive staff members go back to that 2008 season with Wommack.
Quarterbacks coach Bryan Cook is in his first season at Tech.
Johnson serves as his own offensive coordinator.
“They’re throwing a little more and showing some different formations from when I was there. He’s kind of opened up his offense a little bit,” Wommack said.
In its official game notes Georgia Tech’s media relations staff calls quarterback Vad Lee the “most skilled passer” of the Paul Johnson Era.
Lee is second on the team with eight rushing touchdowns. He’s thrown for 1,414 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He’s rushed for 489 yards.
Subtle changes aside, Freeze is confident his defensive staff can put players in position for success.
“Dave’s been around it, and I think we have a good plan,” Freeze said.
The Rebels have faced mobile quarterbacks this season. Auburn rushed for 282 yards with 140 and two touchdowns on 14 carries from quarterback Nick Marshall.
The schemes the Rebels have seen have been very different, however.
“We’ve never really faced an offense like this,” linebacker Mike Marry said. “We cant really compare them to another team.”
Wommack says the keys to having success against the option will be cohesion and execution.
“It’s everybody. If the ends don’t squeeze like they’re supposed to squeeze, if we get up field on the quarterback or somebody doesn’t fit the alley right … Oh, it’s team defense now.”