Rebel right tackle had best game in win over Texas A&M

Senior Offensive Lineman Fahn Cooper spent the first seven weeks of the 2015 football season in Laremy Tunsil's left tackle spot, but now that Tunsil has returned to action, he's moved back to his natural position - right tackle, and in his first outing there, had his "best game ever" against Texas A&M.

"I did OK at left tackle, but I'm just more comfortable on the right side," Cooper said. "It felt good to be at right tackle and it felt good to have LT (Tunsil) back out there. He added a lot of confidence to the whole offense and to the offensive line. Now, we have a nice little rotation at tackle and I think he came back rejuvenated and ready to prove a point, which he did in his first game against Myles Garrett of Texas A&M.

"We were out there flying around pretty good against A&M. He and I are real close, but we also like to compete with each other. If he makes a great block, I want to make a great block and carry it further. To compete with the best tackle in college football, and he's also a close friend, is just something special. It is so much fun and definitely makes us look forward to this stretch run."

On Monday, Coach Hugh Freeze said Fahn played "his best game" and it was obvious being back "home" at right tackle was part of the difference, but Cooper said there was more to it than that.

"To be honest, in my opinion, I feel I have been working harder during games to finish blocks and help guys off the pile and be a better teammate," he continued. "I have been focusing on giving maximum effort on every snap and I think that is what Coach Freeze was seeing. I can play a lot better than that game, I believe, but it's going to take that kind of all-out effort and some finer technique things to improve on that performance."

Against A&M, the Rebels, somewhat surprisingly, rushed for 230 yards. Fahn, however, was not surprised.

"We have never lost our confidence up front to run the ball, but we needed to see some success. We had some early success Saturday night and then got excited when we'd call a run play. 'Oooh, we got 10 yards last time, if I block a little harder, finish a little better, we might get 25 yards or a touchdown.' It was that kind of contagious feeling. It was fun," Fahn stated. "Everyone got in on the frenzy.

"There were some things to iron out early on - it was the first time I had played with Rod Taylor and Jordan Sims since LT was out, so it took a couple of series to get back used to other guys flanking me, but once that felt comfortable, it was all smooth sailing," he noted. "It was also cool to get a couple of series at left tackle when LT got gassed and sat out. I made the transition OK and Sean (Rawlings) filled in for me and did a nice job."

Cooper is excited moving forward, even though he knows the challenges get tougher and tougher.

"Starting with Auburn, the defensive lines we face are going to be bigger and stronger each week than what we have faced since, probably, Alabama. The Auburn game will be a fun and physical game. They have a lot of quality defensive linemen and they keep them fresh. They will run some different looks with different guys and they keep coming at you. All of the teams we face to finish this year have big guys who can move up front. It will be a big challenge, but that's why it is so crucial for us to be a cohesive unit and why it was crucial to get LT back and for us to get a game under our belts," he closed. "The team that gets to Atlanta is going to have to have a consistent offensive line. It can't be up and down.

"I can feel us gaining more consistency. We are going to be in some real battles coming up. We are going to win some plays and lose some plays, but if we can stay consistent and can generate a run game, we will be OK. Also the more DLs try to mess with your head with twist games and double teams and stunts and blitzes and stuff, the more cohesiveness you have, the better you can deal with those different looks, the less confused you get."

What's next? Get after it in practice and get ready to play, one game at a time.

"We finally have most of our people back and it's coming at the right time. We have a great opportunity we want to take advantage of," he closed.

For the Rebs to keep going in the right direction, Fahn Cooper will have to be front and center in the middle of the scrum.

He intends to do just that.


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