OL Options ?

For the first two years of his tenure at Ole Miss, Co-Offensive Coordinator/ Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has not had many options. This year, he feels he may.

The bottom line for the Ole Miss offensive line the past two years, essentially, has been "five and pray."

Of course, that's referring to having, basically, five offensive linemen who were game ready as the team rolled into the season and praying none of them got hurt.

While the situation is not entirely decided just yet as the Rebels inch toward the season opener with Boise State in Atlanta two weeks from today, OL Coach Matt Luke does feel there is an opportunity for him to have more options.

"We've got seven, maybe eight, guys who I think are game ready," said Luke after Wednesday morning's practice. "Also, I think we have a couple of more who are right on the cusp of being there too."

We'll get back to that shortly. . . first things first. . . the starting five.

"That's starting to shape up," said Luke. "There is still a pretty good battle going on at center with Ben Still and Robert Conyers and at right tackle between Robert and Fahn Cooper. Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, Aaron Morris at left guard and Justin Bell at right guard are solid."

Laremy Tunsil and Fahn Cooper.

Which brings us back to the original point - options.

"(Freshman) Rod Taylor is getting a better understanding daily of what we are doing and he is very talented and loves to play the game. He's also gotten in better shape as August has progressed," noted Luke. "Conyers can play either tackle position, Fahn can play either tackle position, Craig Frigo gives us depth at guard - I have no problem playing him. Frigo has the demeanor we are looking for - he's a tough guy who can play just about any position.

"The issue right now is trying to figure out the mixing and matching at tackle. We want to be able to play more than five guys, especially in our tempo game in these early hot games. We will have some moving parts and I do have confidence in these guys. For instance, Robert and Ben have been in this offense for a long time and I am comfortable with them in the game."

For most of last spring and this fall camp, RS frosh Daronte Bouldin has been at a guard position. Now, he's been moved out to right tackle.

"He's done well out there. In my mind, I had him slotted at a guard, but he's surprised me at tackle," Luke continued. "We'd like to redshirt Sean Rawlings, who has played center and tackle, and Jordan Sims. Both have done well and I may not be able to redshirt them, but that is what I would like to do."

Davion Johnson is also working at both tackles and is currently considered the fourth tackle.

Morris, coming off a knee injury that cost him all of last year, is doing well, according to his mentor.

Ole Miss offensive lineman Daronte Bouldin.

"Aaron has a little tendonitis coming off the knee rehab, but he has gone every single rep of every drill and he looks good," added Luke. "Laremy has progressed from year one to year two as well. He's more confident, he's been impressive as a leader, his knowledge of the game has improved, he's stronger and he's kept his weight where it needs to be, around 305. His run blocking has shown the biggest improvement. He's finishing blocks now that he didn't last year."

Overall, Luke feels the run blocking has improved.

"We are bigger and more physical now. I think we will be a more physical line this year," he noted. "We are a couple of guys away from where we want to be, but we are getting there slowly but surely.

"The issue we have right now is that two or three of them we are counting on have no game experience, so we want to see them step up when the lights go on."

While a couple are young and inexperienced, Luke, for a pleasant change, feels he has options and it's no longer a five-and-pray proposition on the offensive line.

Now, it's just a matter of proving it.

OM Spirit Top Stories