Nall Sees Improvement, But Knows Work Remains

Hugh Nall talks about the performance that his group of linemen put together on Saturday night, and the challenges that lie ahead for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.—-After watching his offensive line come out on Saturday night and physically abuse the Arkansas defensive front in their best performance of the season, offensive line coach Hugh Nall says he is seeing some signs of progress out his group.

"I thought we played well," the coach says. "After watching film there were a lot of good things and we have gotten better each week, but there is a lot we have got to get better at. A lot of the fundamental stuff is still not there. What was good was the effort and the assignment grades were really good, but we have got a long way to go.

"I think I saw them take it on to another level," he adds. "I have seen it coming together the last several weeks, and like I said I think we have gotten better each week. Like I told you the first of the year, we weren't a very good offensive line. After last night we are starting to show signs of being a really good offensive line, but like I said we have still got a long way to go, but it was the best they have played thus far."

The coach says one of the big reasons he feels like the line play has improved has been the continuing growth of his two new starters. "Joe Cope and Timmy Duckworth getting so much better, that was the new links to the chain, if you would," he notes. "Timmy really played well yesterday, and of course Joe did too. I think the tackles have been playing pretty good all year and Ben (Grubbs) has been playing okay all year. So, I think there level of play has picked up each week and so it's all come together."

Even among a group of linemen that all played very well and graded out at over 90 percent on their assignments, Nall says that Duckworth stood out on Saturday night.

"He had eight pancakes, pretty impressive," he notes. "That is a real high number in my opinion. It is hard to get a pancake. He was really coming off the ball well. Once again, I think it just goes back to feeling good about what you are doing. You have done it enough in a live situation that he is just starting to feel better and better about what you ask of him."

Timmy Duckworth's play on Saturday night was easily the best of his career.

The rest of the offensive line also put on a big show in Fayetteville as they all graded out at 92 percent or higher on their assignments, including Duckworth's 99 percent, which was the highest. They also racked up 20 ½ pancake blocks, 11 cockroach blocks and 15 Rodeos.

"A Rodeo is just where they fit in with the guy that they have on a pass pro (protection) and they are locked up, I get real scientific about it, it is if they are locked up at what we call point zero, where they are fitted exactly right on a guy from the time they engage him until the ball is gone," Nall explains about how they tally the statistics. "It is just like riding a bull for a eight count, you basically stay in front of the guy for at least four or five seconds.

"A cockroach is a cut block," he continues. "You are going to cut them and they are either laying on their back like a dead cockroach or they are down crawling like one."

Although he was excited about the performance of the line on Saturday, Nall explains that he knows this weekends test will be a whole different monster. "I was feeling real good until watching LSU on film this morning, so we have got to pick it up another notch," he notes. "We have gotten better each week and we certainly have to do that this week because it is going to be a different level."

One of the biggest reasons that LSU poses such a threat is the play of senior nose tackle Kyle Williams, who can be a one man wrecking crew at times inside. "Number one you have got to see Kyle Williams stand out," Nall says.

"I think number one he is a gifted athlete and he has worked hard to get big and strong," he adds about why the 6-2, 295-pounder is such a terror to opposing offenses. "Other than having to block him he is fun to watch. I enjoy watching him play football. He is a full-speed, hard-nosed football player. He plays the game the way it is supposed to be played."

Nall says that if the Tigers are going to be effective in dealing with the talented nose tackle, Joe Cope is going to have to take his game to yet another level. "Well, Joe has gotten better and he is going to have to pick it up," he says. "He certainly doesn't have the experience that Kyle has got. Kyle has been starting for several years now, so he is going to have to pick it up.

"We are going to have to do some things to try and help him out at times, but he is going to have to rise to the occasion," the coach adds. "He has got a challenge. He has got to study a lot of film this week and try to get to know Kyle's footwork and his fundamental technique and try to counter that. Is he up to it? I know Joe will compete, but he is going to have to rise to the occasion."

However, Nall also says that Williams and the rest of the talented players that make-up LSU's first-team defensive front are not the only reason his line will have to step up their play on Saturday.

"Then when the second team comes in I don't see that big of a drop off," he says. "They are just very talented on the first team and second team, and their linebackers are running around making plays. Their front seven, of course what I am concerned with the most, is pretty impressive."

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