Assistant coach Jacob Peeler has been a popular man among the defensive coaching staff this week. Ole Miss is preparing to face his former team, the California Golden Bears, on the road this Saturday and many expect him to have the inside scoop on California’s offense. But it may not be that simple.
“I’ve kind of had my brain picked this week,” Peeler said. “I try to help as much as I can. Obviously, I don’t have as much experience with the offense they’re running now, but I obviously know how those guys have been used in the past.”
The new coaching staff at Cal clearly possesses its own styles and schemes, but it is not far-fetched to expect Peeler to have his defense well-prepared to deal with the explosive Golden Bear offense.
“Offensively, when we were there, it was very similar to what coach (Phil) Longo’s offense is in terms of spread and no huddle,” Peeler said. “They fit a similar mold in terms of what we do.”
As far as any emotional ties to his past team are concerned, it’s just another game for Peeler.
“My time there was a great experience. I got a lot of kids there that still have a special place in my heart, but at the end of the day, they know that in this business, it’s business,” Peeler said. “I’m looking forward to seeing those guys, but when the clock’s running, it’s about winning the football game.”
Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Josiah Coatney said the defense, which has been criticized for allowing far too many points against weak opponents, has made significant progress since week one.
“It’s just technique. We’re working on that. It’s nothing major,” Coatney said.
One player who continues to improve is Victor Evans. The junior defensive end played in 11 games in 2016, mainly as a backup, but is playing a bigger role this season.
“Victor’s been doing great. He has so much energy on the field,” Coatney said, smiling at Evans across the room. “Got a sack last game, so hopefully he keeps that up. He’s been doing a lot of extra work before practice, and I really commend him for that.”
For players like Coatney and Evans, keeping the game simple is key.
“Show out. Step into the role. Do what you’re supposed to do,” Evans said. “At the end of the day, I got a family to feed.”
Heading into Saturday’s matchup at Cal, the Rebels will need to count on a combination of insightful coaching and hard-nosed defensive play if they hope to leave Berkley with a 3-0 record.
Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.