Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has an ongoing goal with his group - weekly improvement.
After a somewhat bumpy start against Boise State, the Reb offensive line showed marked improvement against Vanderbilt.
Less penalties, more running room for the running backs and pretty good overall protection of the quarterbacks were the proof.
But he knows there is still work to do and, most likely, that work will continue throughout the season.
"There was improvement, but I want to see more. Any team that ends up good improves weekly, especially up front," Luke said. "We all have to remember that Fahn Cooper, Ben Still and even Aaron Morris, who hasn't played in a year, are getting needed experience. You can't teach experience and the more they get, the better they will be.
"We're building. Get to this point and move the bar higher. Get to that point and move it higher again. Get a little more physical each week. Get a little better communicating each week."
Most of the penalties from the opener were "fixed," but Cooper still had a couple.
"I was disappointed in those because they cost us a touchdown and anytime you take points off the board you are not pleased with that, but sticking a guy in there from junior college without the benefit of spring training is hard," said Matt. "He's out there battling and is doing pretty well all things considered. He'll keep improving as he gains experience.
"If you will remember our first year, JUCO transfer Pierce Burton had some growing pains. The more he played, the better he got. Fahn will do the same."
Talented freshman Rod Taylor got his first action. How did Luke grade him out?
"I was pleased. He was physical. He was beaten for a sack right before halftime, but I like what he is doing," he noted. "He was out there playing with energy, bouncing around, he had some pancakes and he showed his ability and showed what he can be. Those reps he got were invaluable to the process. Now he's got a taste of it and he's going to work that much harder to get some more.
"(JUCO transfer) Craig Frigo also got his first action and did well. He had several finishes and played with a lot of enthusiasm. It was good for them to get a taste of it as we move forward."
Matt felt better about the Rebs' short yardage productivity.
"We were able to move some defenders a little better. It can be better, adn will be, but with the help of Jeremy (Liggins) running the ball, we were effective. He's going to get some tough yards for us. We know when we put him in there that people are going to jam the box, but he hasn't been stopped yet. It may not look as clean as you want it, but it's been effective," he said. "If they load the box, we feel good about the option of throwing it against man coverage in those situations."
It's old news that Christian Morris, the transfer from UCLA, has been declared immediately eligible by the NCAA. What's new is Luke's evaluation of where the big guy stands right now in regards to being able to help the team.
"He's looked good considering. He's rusty and a few pounds overweight from not having gotten many reps in August," noted Luke. "He's been on the scout team for three weeks, so he hasn't been in our scheme.
"Christian got some reps with the twos this week and we are bring him along slowly. It's obviously good for us to have an extra big body and we will work him in as quickly as we can, but we know we have work to do. Getting his used to the speed of the game is number one. Getting him cohesive with the guys next to him is another another goal. Catching him caught up in the system is important. We don't want to put him out there and him have paralysis through analysis. Those are our challenges as coaches."
Last week, after Boise, the theme from Luke was to build more chemistry. He felt the Reb forward wall took a step in that direction versus the Commodores.
"We are not where we want to be yet in that area, but I saw more chemistry in the second game than the first game and, like everything else, we want to build on that each week," he closed. "As long as we can show improvement each week, as I said, we will be fine."
Week one to week two improvement was accomplished.
Week two to week three? We'll see. . .
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