Arranging the Pieces

After a week of August camp, Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke doesn't have much voice left, but he pushed through an interview to update Rebel Nation on how his group is progressing.

"I like the competition we have going on out there and in my room," Luke said. "Competition creates accountability and guys trying to do things the right way. Everyone gets better."

Luke announced a couple of tidbits that weren't surprising or totally unexpected, but were certainly newsworthy.

"The biggest thing is that we are working Justin Bell and Ben Still with the second unit at center. Robert Conyers is currently number one there, but it is an open competition," Luke stated. "Right now, Rod Taylor is number one at right guard.

"Aaron Morris hasn't been turned loose completely yet, so Javon Patterson is getting a lot of the number one reps at left guard. Also Jordan Sims and Daronte Bouldin are working at the guard slots.

"Right now, Laremy Tunsil and Christian Morris are at left tackle and Fahn Cooper and Sean Rawlings are the right tackles. Fahn also plays left tackle when Laremy needs a rest. Laremy looks really good coming back from injury, probably 90% if I had to put a number one it. Fahn has lost from 320 down to 298 and is moving really well. He also knows the offense much better. I like the path he is on."

Morris has lost some 50-60 pounds since his second ACL injury/surgery and looks more mobile, but Luke is anxious to see him in live action.

"He's moving around well in some drills and on the side. He's getting into football shape and I think he will be faster with the lost weight," Matt noted. "I think Aaron will probably get a few team reps Saturday."

Luke said Patterson doesn't look like a freshman, but even though Javon had the benefit of spring training, a true freshman is exactly what he is.

"He's just so conscientious. He wants to get everything right and he's constantly asking how he can get better," said Matt. "He is going to be a really good football player here in time and he's certainly ahead of the curve of players his age."

Last spring, Luke kept talking about Taylor becoming more mature and more consistent, on and off the field. Apparently, with him getting most of the number one reps at right guard, that is taking place, but it's not a done deal yet.

"Rod hasn't won the job yet, but he's been doing all the little things better. He's been more accountable, he's been more disciplined. His athleticism and talent are not his issues - he just needs to focus and finish," Matt added. "Rod knows, however, that we can easily move Justin back over to RG, or maybe Javon or Daronte or Jordan if he's not performing. So far, he is.

"Sims had a really good spring and he's continued that this fall, but I want to see him get stronger. He's another one who lost a lot of weight. Football is important to him, he's smart and he plays hard. He will get his time. I would not be scared to play him now."

The one thing Luke is striving for from his group is consistency, which is hard to come by against the Rebel defensive line day-in-and-day-out.

"It's tough playing against them. We've had our moments and they have had their moments. We have held our own, but I want to see more when they really put the heat on and mix things up," he stated.

Luke feels that type of play is just around the corner due to the unity in his room.

"Without a doubt, this group is closer than they have ever been. That is important. They care about each other and they are together," Luke closed. "That will go a long way in their development."

Freshmen Michael Howard has knee and shoulder issues and will be out for a while. Freshman Alex Givens is getting the number three reps at left tackle, but he's a likely going to marinate for a year.

"Michael has to get healthy and put on a bunch of weight but I like his upside and potential," Luke closed. "Alex is doing some good things, but he's probably going to redshirt. He's behind Sean and Christian at this point."

OM Spirit Top Stories