It's pretty obvious what the Rebel offense is attacking this week after the showing in the opener against Boise State. . .
. . . the run game.
Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke knows it has to improve moving forward.
"I didn't think we played very well up front overall," said Luke. "We have a lot to improve on. The things that happened are correctable, I believe. The things that happened didn't have anything to do with ability.
"We weren't focused well and we didn't handle the movement and shifting by the Boise line because we didn't prepare for it. We had not seen that anywhere in the defensive coordinator's history and it caught us off guard."
Luke essentially said the first half was a wipe out, but he was pleased with the halftime adjustments and improvement in the second half.
"We did much better after we adjusted a few things and settled in a little bit after halftime," he continued. "I think we can play more physical and we can obviously play better. We can, and will, come off the ball more aggressively. We were out of sync, but we will get in sync. The good thing is that we played poorly in a win, so things are easier to correct when you have the good feeling of winning."
What will correct the issues? Time and work.
"The false starts were very frustrating. They weren't wanting to do it. They just lost their poise and were a little antsy," Luke explained. "We will work that out. We will work on having poise with the noise, as we call it.
"It takes time to build the chemistry we need, so there is a time factor involved, but we will get better quickly. We have to. Everyone has to step up and just do their job and the chemistry will come."
Luke expects it to be hot Saturday against Vanderbilt. Consequently, he is anticipating using more players.
"Robert (Conyers) played a lot against Boise because he knows the system and I felt he could handle the situation we were in better than Fahn (Cooper) at that point," he explained. "We are going to stay with Fahn at RT, but Robert will play a lot at center and tackle, Rod Taylor will play more. We have to have more people ready Saturday."
Vandy runs a 3-4 defense. Is that a worry for Luke since most of their work in August has been against a four-man front?
"I don't want to sound like a cliche', but most of our issues last week were on us, so that is where our focus is this week," he stated. "We had technique issues, our eyes were in the wrong spots at times and so on.
"We have to worry about us first. Vandy has a very good defense. We will have to play much better than we did against Boise to be successful."
* It appears sophomore Derek Jones may be pulling double duty for now. Needing depth at wide receiver, Jones is splitting time between wideout and cornerback in practices. He did not play a lot against Boise, but is expected to play substantially when the Rebels face bigger receivers. In the meantime, Jones, an outstanding receiver in high school, will help bolster a thin receiving corps.
* All of August, it didn't look as if DE Channing Ward was going to get a lot of action on defense but would be relegated to a ton of special teams play. Wrong. He not only played quality snaps against Boise, he played well. Why the change of heart from the coaches? "Channing plays better than he practices," was the simple explanation offered by Freeze.
* DE Carlos Thompson, who did not play against Boise on defense, was in a scout team jersey Tuesday. That does not mean he will not play on Saturday, but it does mean he is down the depth chart for now.
* DT Issac Gross was dressed out and practicing in full pads Tuesday. Issac, who has been missing time due to a neck issue, did not play against Boise. We'll see how he holds up the rest of this week in practice.
* OLB Serderius Bryant was ejected from the Boise game for a head to head hit. Some fans think it was a bad call, some a good call. Here's what the coaches thought. It was not a late hit, he did not launch himself in the air, it was not flagrant, but he did hit the Bronco QB in the chin area and that will be called every time. The Boise QB is short. Had he been 6-2 or 6-3, Bird would have hit him in the chest and it would have been a legal hit. As it was, proper call, in our coaches' minds.
* There is a logjam at outside linebacker with Denzel Nkemdiche returning this week off of a one-game suspension. How will his inclusion be handled in the rotation? It looks as if Bird will still start, Denzel will get quality playing time and Keith Lewis will handle all third down middle linebacker duties and some spot OLB play along with his special teams responsibilities. Good problem to have. And don't forget Tayler Polk, who played well against Boise. He is the ace in the hole for LB Coach Tom Allen.
* I knew there was a reason DE C.J. Johnson and I are friends. He's a New York Yankee and Sons of Anarchy fan. So am I.
* Something new for QB Bo Wallace, or at least the first time we have seen it. Bo was throwing with a glove on his right (throwing) hand. Will that continue in games? We'll see. . .
* Fahn Cooper was working with the number one offense at right tackle Tuesday. Against Boise, he was pulled in favor of Robert Conyers, but apparently did not lose his job.
* C Ben Still had 6-8 low/off target snaps against Boise. In practice today, he was right on target every snap. Maybe that issue is fixed.
* WR Quincy Adeboyejo was working at slot and outside Tuesday. He has been exclusively in the slot all spring and August, but apparently the coaches feel he can handle both. He played out wide last season mostly.
* Devante Kincade took most of the snaps at number two QB Tuesday. That's something new that we have sen.
* CB Senquez Golson has always been pretty good in coverage, but he showed a marked improvement in run support against Boise, and he was very physical. The Rebels had a lot of big hits in the opener and Golson added to that total a couple of times. Good game for Queasy.
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