For the past few weeks, it could be argued that a strength of the Ole Miss football team are the…
Second Time Around
Rebel Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner has been there and done that - the Egg Bowl that is. As the offensive coordinator for Ed Orgeron in 2006 and 2007, Werner has felt the good and the bad of the Ole Miss - Mississippi State rivalry. In '06, the Rebels won 20-17. In '07, the Rebs lost 17-14. "The first year, we came down from the press box and we won the game. I knew it was important, but just didn't realize how important until we were holding up the trophy and everyone was screaming. It was big time - like winning the national championship. I told the rest of the coaches I didn't realize it was like that," said Werner, who has been a part of national championship teams at Miami. "Then, the next year, when we lost, it was quite the opposite. You learn real quick this is what it's all about in this state." "What it's all about" is just around the corner at 6 p.m. Saturday when the Rebels and Bulldogs clash yet again. Werner's task will be pitting the Rebs' usually-potent offense against a Bulldog defense that has been both solid and porous, depending on the opponent, but regardless has helped MSU to an 8-3 record. "They have five senior and two junior starters, so they have good experience. Unlike our defense, they have no freshmen playing, so they are engrained in their system and don't make a lot of glaring mistakes," said Werner. "They are solid." Mississippi State's defensive schemes and tendencies have been charted in detail by the Rebel coaching staff. Dan Werner File Photo "This could change for this game, of course, but one first and second downs they usually don't pressure as much. On third down, though, they will sometimes get into a three-man front and bring extra people from both sides and even up the middle," Werner said. "They mix things up and can cause a lot of problems for you protection-wise." MSU's top gun in the secondary is CB Johnthan Banks, a 6-2, 185 pounder who has been roaming the Bulldog secondary successfully for four years. Werner is well aware of Banks. "He's rangy and he can move. He's got great hips. Guys can put moves on him and he is still athletic enough to stick with them. He's just a great player," Werner said. "He's got a lot of interceptions in his career, which tells you all you need to know." Senior DT Josh Boyd is the Bulldogs' bell cow up front. "He's big, physical, quick - a typical SEC defensive lineman. We have a few things we are working on to make sure he's not constantly in our backfield. He's a good one," Werner stated. So what do the Rebels have to do to move the ball and score on the Bulldogs? Standard fare, according to Werner. "Number one, always, is protect the football. Bo (Wallace) has done a good job lately until last week and not all of them were not his fault," Werner noted. "If we will protect the football and stay on schedule, the same keys every week, good things will happen."
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