Still Improving

Ben Still saw action late in game one of the 2012 season opener. Getting his feet wet, so to speak, is part of the plan for the freshman offensive lineman as he goes about maturing in the college game.

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"I came in trying to learn everything," said Still, a Memphis University School graduate whose father, Eric, was an All-American offensive lineman at Tennessee.

And by that he does mean everything, including center, a position he isn't all that familiar with.

"It's kind of all big," he said of the learning process. "I've never really played center before, and they moved me there. So I had to get all the calls down with the new offense and everything. I've been through so much since day one. Just the camaraderie between us all (helps). I can make calls and they know what it means now and everything."

So Still's definitely improving there, and his coaches believe he has a solid future. The few snaps he made in the Rebels' 49-27 win against Central Arkansas were only the beginning.

"Love Ben Still," said head coach Hugh Freeze. "I think he's going to be a great one. He's got great feet. He's tough. We've got to get some weight on him. Wish he was bigger. But he's going to play some this year."

Right now Still checks in at 6-foot-4, 277 pounds. But that's up from 269 when he got here earlier this summer. He wants to get to around 285 to 290 at some point.

"That'll come with time," Still said. "I've tried not to put it on too fast, just tried to put good weight on. I've still got mobility and everything going for me. I definitely need to get stronger, a lot stronger, actually, and get some more weight on me. Because I'll get pushed around in there sometimes. But it's coming along."

A guard for the most part who played some tackle and a little center at MUS, Still said he's enjoying being in the middle of the action.

"I like it a lot. I like kind of having control of part of the offense. Making calls. Calling out blitzes," he said.

Offensive line coach Matt Luke said Still had some positive moments for his first time in a college game.

"He did good," Luke said. "Ben's a guy that is a fighter. Very hard-nosed young man, and I trust him. He'll go out there and give you what he's got. He's very intelligent and is going to play hard. He's a guy that throughout the season because of our depth is going to have to play some."

Ben Still
Chuck Rounsaville

Still wasn't sure he would play at all this season. Before the opener and earlier in the summer, he could see sitting out a year in his immediate future.

"I came in thinking I'd redshirt this year," he said. "That wasn't my goal. My goal was to come in and work hard and earn a spot and maybe get some playing time. That's what happened."

Still admitted there were some butterflies when his name got called last Saturday night.

"It was a little nerve-racking. I kind of fired some snaps back there a little fast," he said. "But it was good to get those first couple of snaps in. I've got to work on my confidence, making the call and going with it and not second-guessing myself. I just have to learn to go with what I call and see first. If I mess up, I mess up, and just play the next play."

He said he feels the entire offensive line made progress in game one. They'll need to be even better against UTEP Saturday night, he also said.

"We still have a lot of things to work on. I think the main thing we have going for us is the tempo. We've still got more conditioning to get done. But the tempo is definitely going to be in our favor.

"(UTEP's) best players on defense are their interior linemen," Still continued. "They're big and strong and quick. If we can handle them, I think we'll be fine. But our offensive line is going to have to improve on a lot of things. And that's what we've been working on this week."

He's hoping the fast-paced tempo of the Rebel offense will work to Ole Miss' advantage again. He felt like it did against the Bears in the opener.

"The (UCA) defensive line and defense was getting worn down," he said. "You could tell we were able to push them around a little bit. The tempo helped us out a ton.

"It gave us confidence, a lot of confidence," Still continued as he talked about the play of the Ole Miss offense last weekend. "We know what we can do, what this offense can do. We played alright, but we can play a lot better. We still put up 565 yards on them. That's a big confidence booster. The main thing (this week) is confidence."

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