Blitz-Happy Aggies

Rebel Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has braced his troops for a blitz barrage from the Texas A&M Aggies Saturday. Preparation for their blitz packages has been intense.

For most of the early periods of each practice this week, the Ole Miss offensive line has been repping the various and sundry blitzes the Texas A&M Aggies use on defense.

According to Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke, the Aggies blitz a lot and out of several different packages, more than anyone the Rebs have faced this year.

"They give you a lot to prepare for and to go with that, they have good personnel executing their plan," said Luke. "They are smart in their schemes and they get #94 (Damontre Moore) matched up in singles where you can't get help on him," noted Luke. "They use their schemes real well to get him one-on-one. They bring guys in his immediate area so it's hard to double him.

"Moore is faster than most of the guys we have played. He's not quite as big, but he can move."

There's only one remedy for a multiple blitz package – know them inside and out.

"You have to rep them and rep them and rep them. Your protections have to be right, slid in the right direction, and your quarterback has to be able to get help where the blitz is coming from," he explained. "We can use our tight end to help some at times. We can move the pocket. We can do some things.

"We've seen all their blitzes before but not in one game. They play three different fronts and they bring blitzes from the strong side, weak side and the middle. They have them all in their package and they use them all. That's unusual. Usually, we have to prepare for a couple of stunts a week, but not this week. They bring them all, a multitude you have to prepare for." The main part of "some things" is success on first down.

"The number one thing we need to do is keep it out of third-and-long. If we can keep it third-and-3 or third-and-4, they will have to respect our run game. Our biggest problem is to get in third-and-long, that is where we have struggled this year," Luke added. "Our biggest challenge is to win first down so we can get our tempo game going. Both of those things are married – good first down production and staying out of third-and-longs."

Random Notes:

* Redshirt Update: Eight players are redshirting this year, three freshmen and five upperclassmen. The following are some notes we picked up on them from various insiders in casual conversation. . . DE Carlos Thompson – He is now 245 pounds and his lift numbers are "blowing up." He is said to be gaining significant strength on a weekly basis. . . LB/DE D.T. Shackelford – He was asked by a coach recently if he should back off his daily rigid training regime and rest a few days. We were told D.T. looked at the coach like he was crazy. All systems go for D.T. to be full bore in spring drills. . . OL Darone Bailey – Has lost down to 315 pounds and is starting to feed off D.T.'s intensity, which has upped his work ethic a couple of notches. . . OT Robert Conyers – Since arriving on campus, his work ethic and work capacity have risen dramatically. He has gotten stronger, but not much bigger yet. The anticipation is for him to have a monster offseason and gain the needed weight to compete on this level. . . TE John Youngblood – A steady worker who has steadily improved. Setting himself up for a great offseason as well. . . DE/LB Temario Strong – Up to 244 pounds. Probably needs to level off in that neighborhood until a firm decision on DE or LB is made. Squat and bench numbers are climbing rapidly. Still learning techniques of the Olympic lifts, but working hard to get it right. . . P Tyler Campbell and PK Andrew Ritter – Both are working to get stronger and are gradually gaining more power.

* A&M Punt Returner Dustin Harris has returned 18 punts for 320 yards and a 96-yard TD. His 17.8 yards per return average is tops in the nation. Last week, against Alabama, the Rebel coaches had Punter Jim Broadway kick away from their return men, but the directional punting turned into two shanks that essentially flipped the field for the Tide. What strategy will the coaches use against Harris? That's a secret right now, but one would have to assume kicking too him in the middle of the field is simply too dangerous.

* Injury Update: As of today, it doesn't appear Slot Receiver Korvic Neat will be able to go against the Aggies. If he does, his duties will be limited. . . DT Uriah Grant (hand surgery) will play. . . DT Woodrow Hamilton (high ankle sprain) will not play.

* Tanner Burns injured his knee in the Alabama game and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. He was on the kickoff team. It appears as if freshman CB Anthony Standifer will fill his slot. The Rebels gave up a 98-yard, momentum-changing return last week, so some of the personnel has been shuffled around, but remains the same other than Standifer filling in for Burns.

* As of Thursday afternoon, no decision has been made yet on who the starting quarterback will be for the Rebels - Bo Wallace or Barry Brunetti. A decision will be made tonight, Coach Hugh Freeze said as he was leaving the practice field today.


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