Back in August, when junior Ben Still was getting ready to take over the center spot in the middle of the Ole Miss offense, he admits to having some concerns.
"About midway through August, all the guys on offense looked at each other and said either our defense is really good or we, on offense, really suck," Ben smiled. "After we played a couple of games we realized our defense was just that good and we were going to be OK on offense."
The Rebel offense, besides two games (LSU and Arkansas) ended up being better than OK, averaging over 30 points an outing against some of the best defenses in the country and Still was an integral part of that success despite being sidetracked midway through the season with a knee injury.
"I'm OK now. I needed the time off between the Egg Bowl and the Peach Bowl though," Still noted. "I'm 100% and I will not have to get any offseason surgery."
If you will recall, Still was supposed to be sidelined against Auburn, but when LT Laremy Tunsil could not go, Still's replacement, Robert Conyers, had to move to tackle and Still sucked it up and played the whole game hobbled.
"In that big a game, I had to do it. It was tough, but every game is tough in the trenches, whether you are healthy or not," he explained modestly.
Now his attention turns to TCU.
While the Horn Frogs' offense gets a lot of the ink, their defense has been stingy too.
"They move their inside guys on their front around a lot and will go with a three-man front and a four-man front," he explained. "We have been working on all their schemes. They do a real good job of mixing things up.
"It's nothing we haven't seen before, but we will really have to be focused with the way they call things to get you off-balance."
Ben said TCU's front reminds him of the Rebs' opener against Boise State, something that took the Rebels, you'll recall, a half to figure out.
"They don't play as much three-man front as Boise, but they move around a lot like Boise, which gave us trouble for a while. We should start out more tuned in this time," Ben noted.
He admits to a case of jitters in the opener and that's not a god thing for a center having to make line checks.
"Now things have slowed down for me and I don't get as nervous before games," he smiled. "I've been through a lot this year and have seen a lot of different looks. We should be OK if we just play our game and are focused.
"Ever since the ULL game, I've been comfortable out there, other than the period I was injured."
Still will be having a "new" starter flanking him in the Peach Bowl. With Aaron Morris out with a knee injury/surgery, Justin Bell has moved to Moris' LG spot and freshman Rod Taylor will be starting at right guard.
"Rod has caught on really quickly. I'm not having to tell him much anymore. From day one, he has improved by miles. I used to have to tell him everything, now I don't have to tell him much at all. He's got it," Ben stated. "He is so athletic too. He's really going to be special in time."
Based on the looks the Rebel offense has shown in practice, Still will be splitting time with Conyers, which is fine by him.
"The great thing about this team is that we just want to win. We don't care who does it. We just all want to do our part, whatever that is, for the team and that's a great way to play football," he closed.
And, Ben, the defense is really good and the offense does not suck.
Thanks, in part, to the much-improved man in the middle.
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