OXFORD – Football is the ultimate team game as it requires 11 people to function as one unit.
While there’s no I in team, there’s an F in both offense and defense, and it pretty clear how the defense would have fared last year had they passed out grades at the end of the season.
At the same time, that might be the course the offense is on after a 15-10 season-opening loss.
There was great excitement for both new Ole Miss coordinators in the off-season, but the Memphis trip certainly gave the impression of a shifting landscape. The defense elevated while the offense declined.
I think the offense will be better Saturday night against Arkansas.
For now, there’s only one game to assess in the body of work.
Josiah Coatney’s assessment is that it’s time for the defense to shoulder an extra load when necessary.
“The defense wasn’t as equipped last year as it should have been,” said Coatney, a senior defensive lineman.
The defense looked much more equipped against Memphis, holding an experienced offense that averaged 42.8 points in 2018 to 13 points.
Coatney was one of three players with seven tackles. One of his was a sack for an 8-yard loss.
All position groups were productive, including the defensive line, which showed strong depth.
Benito Jones, Quentin Bivens and Tariq Tisdale all came off the bench and totaled eight tackles between them. Jones and Tisdale each had three plus a tackle for loss. Jones added an interception and a pressure.
Defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre compares line play to wrestling.
“We’re going to have to keep rotating those guys. If anybody’s ever wrestled before it wears you out. They’re having to sprint to the ball every play. Offensive linemen, they go to the ball, but they’re not having to sprint to the ball every single play. If you’re having to wrestle and sprint 20 yards then wrestle and sprint 20 yards you get worn out so that’s why you have to rotate in D linemen more. I think they understand the whole concept that when they’re fresher they can make more plays and when they’re not fresher, another guy comes in.”
The linemen seem comfortable with the idea.
“We know we’ve got a lot of talent,” Coatney said. “We’ve got a lot of depth on the D line, and we’re using everything we’ve got.”