Lee Likes OL Progress

Rebel Offensive Coordinator David Lee feels the Rebel offense has something to hang its hat, and hopes, on with the recent development of the offensive line.

After Saturday's game with Arkansas, and into this week's preparations for Auburn, Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator David Lee has been encouraged with the results of two recent changes on the offensive line.

One, he's happy with the progress of sophomore Center Evan Swindall, who has started the last two games.

"Evan has done very well in calling our line signals. We've all known our OL play has been like an accordion this year, and we've tried different personnel, but Evan seems to have given us some stability," said Lee. "He's smart and has been good making the right calls. He's been really good on our shotgun snaps. He's been a good move for us and that has solidified some things for us."

Two, freshman Aaron Morris was elevated to number one at the left guard slot.

"Aaron made a couple of mistakes but he's doing better. He can run and he's the best athlete of the five," said Lee. "He can run, he can pull and he's excellent with our power scheme."

Lee feels the Rebel offense is gaining an identity.

"We didn't know who could do what at the start of the year. We didn't know who we could trust because of our inexperience and youth. Now, guys like Donte Moncrief and Nick Brassell know what they are doing and we can give them more and more," said Lee. "Done has made the split end position very solid, especially lately. Like I said, the first few games were learning experiences, but he's come a long way since and we are more comfortable asking him to do more. Our quarterback always looks for him and Nick now. They are our playmakers our wide."

It also helps that QB Randall Mackey will be starting his fourth game in a row.

"It was tough playing the second-best team and the ninth-best team in the country on his second and third starts, but he's progressing and we are pleased with where he is right now," David added. "He's got a lot of room to grow, but he is growing. We have been practicing with a lot of crowd noise this week because of the environment we are going to be in - 80,000 loud fans - but he has handled the communication really well."

Evan Swindall
File Photo

Auburn presents another major challenge for the Rebel offense.

"They can really run. They are a good defense. They will give us all we want," David said. "They are playing some young guys too and have made some moves to help their cause, but I can see them gelling now. They played LSU last week and didn't do well, but nobody is stopping LSU right now. I'm not letting that score influence my evaluation of them. They are good."

Rebel Coach Houston Nutt was pleased with Wednesday's work.

"Again, we had good concentration. Just like I said yesterday, tho0ugh, we have to come out and do it again tomorrow," Nutt noted.

A common theme the past few weeks for the defense has been to stop giving up bit plays.

"They rip the guts out of you, breaks your back. We are working hard on that," he continued. "Everybody has a responsibility - take care of your gap and go make a tackle. We have had better practices in trying to correct that, but we have to start doing that in games."

That concern is front and center this week as well because Auburn sports one of the best backs in the league in TB Michael Dyer.

"He's one of the hardest-running backs in the league," said Houston. "He's built low to the ground and is very strong below the waist. He breaks a lot of tackles and is faster than you think.

"They also have a one-two punch with their speed guy, Onterio McCalebb. He sets up Dyer because you have to respect McCalebb getting on the edge. He runs the sweep, reverses, everything out wide. You are constantly on your toes that he's going to get the ball, then he doesn't get it and they hand it to Dyer inside. We have to account for McCalebb every play."

Random Notes:

* Swindall said he improved quite a bit from his first start - Alabama - to his second start - Arkansas. "I was better with the power blocking stuff," he assessed. "I still need to keep working on everything, literally everything, but I made strides from my first game to my second. I feel like I'm doing a good job making the line calls and I believe as a unit our chemistry is coming around better.". . . . Swindall said he cannot let his guard down, however, if he wants to keep the job. "A.J. (Hawkins) and I still have great competition every day. We battle every day for the job and we push each other, which makes us much better," Evan continued. . . . Swindall is flanked on the left side by Morris. "Aaron listens and is attentive," Swindall evaluated. "He's young and he's going to make some mistakes, just like me, but he plays hard and when he makes an error, it's full speed. He knew his stuff, which is really good for someone who is a true freshman. He's a great athlete - probably the most athletic of all of us on the OL. He's also matures and serious about football."

* The Rebels' task against Auburn's offense will be slowing down a vaunted running attack led by sophomore TB Michael Dyer. The Rebs have not been efficient in stopping the run most of this year. The speculation here is that Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix will try to stay with the theme of having more beef on the field, ala, DT Uriah Grant lining up at defensive end some. Also, look for Cameron Whigham, who is thicker than Gerald Rivers, Kentrell Lockett or Carlos Thompson, to get more of a shot this week along with Jason Jones, also a bigger DE.

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