State Of The OL

After a couple of games of what they considered "sub-par" play, senior OL Emmanuel McCray feels the Rebel offensive line is going in the right direction after a good showing against Texas A&M.

First thing's first.

Emmanuel McCray, who can play both guard and both tackle positions, was lined up at tight end against Texas A&M.

Yes, tight end.

When asked about the new package, it made him smile.

"That was fun. Earlier in the week, the coaches told me they were going to put in a heavy package to help amp up the running game," McCray explained. "They were going to put an extra bid body in there and I was going to be the tight end in certain sets.

"The spacing is different, to be that far away from the ball, but I had done that some on the scout team my redshirt year and I knew I wasn't going to have any pass routes. It was fine. I liked it."

McCray said if the coaches had opted to send him out on a route, he would catch it.

"I'd go get it. I played tight end in middle school and in the ninth grade. I got some hands. Now it's been awhile, but I've got some hands," he stated.

Now, on the essentials.

How does this senior leader feel the offensive line is progressing?

"Coach (Matt) Luke called us out after the Auburn game, which he should have. We had to get back to basics, get some push in the middle and get our pads down," he noted. "Alabama came up with a good plan to stop our outside stuff by running the ends upfield and we didn't do a good job of getting inside movement.

Emmanuel McCray
Chuck Rounsaville

"We got a little better with that at Auburn and against Texas A&M I thought we got back on track to where we should be."

McCray believes the OL now has a balanced attack.

"If teams shut off the inside, we have confidence we can go inside now. If they stop the inside stuff, we know we can go outside. I think we have everything ironed out now to produce no matter what a defense does," McCray said. "We got away from our inside zone game a little because the outside power was working so good.

"It took us a week or two to get back into the rhythm of inside zone blocking, but I think we are ready to move forward now."

McCray feels the improvement against the Aggies was both physical and with the scheme.

"A&M was not ready for the heavy package when we unleashed it. They adjusted to it late in the game, but that opened up our passing game," McCray added. "Also, as I said, we finished blocks and played lower against Texas A&M.

"The running backs trusted us and we got movement. That's what it is all about."

McCray feels the Rebel OL has done a good job of overcoming a big early-season blow - losing stalwart Aaron Morris.

"We have missed Aaron's athleticism, power and experience a lot. He's a powerful kid who moves people out," said McCray. "The guys replacing him have done a great job of stepping up, but he was an inside force for us.

"We've adjusted pretty well, but to say he isn't missed wouldn't be truthful. Physically, he's a specimen, the best we've got."

Freshmen LT Laremy Tunsil and RG Austin Golson now have six games under their belts. What is McCray's impression of them?

"Laremy gets away with a lot because of his mobility. He's got his head on right and is going to be a great player here," McCray assessed. "Austin is one of those kids who loves to compete. He will do everything in his power to win. He will be an elite player too once he gets a little more strength on him in the offseason. He's also a smart kid.

"They came in ready to play and have proven that with their progress and their production. Coach Luke has put a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and they have responded."

McCray is also a fan of redshirt freshmen Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson.

"I tell them every day to grind, that they do not know how much this redshirt year will help them. They are working on the little things now and will be ready to go next year and for a long time to come," he stated.

Now, as a senior, McCray has to make sure he does his part in keeping the younger players' heads up after three straight losses.

"These young guys look to our body language and how we react. We tell them, it's all about the next game and I see them reacting to that," McCray stated. "They see how we react and respond the same way.

"Of course the losses hurt, but you just cannot afford to dwell on them very long. We'll have another tough one coming up the next week and you have to attack it like a new lease on life."

McCray tries carefully to set the proper example.

"As a senior, a loss hurts even more. I will never get to play Alabama or Auburn or Texas A&M again, but I know I have to stay positive for these young kids and show them the right way to do things, win or lose," said McCray.

Meanwhile, McCray is getting ready for another major challenge in the LSU Tigers.

"This is life in the SEC," he smiled. "The LSUs of the world are why we play in this league. You get to match your skills and game to the best.

"We can't wait to see how we match up."

OM Spirit Top Stories