It seems as if Ole Miss fans are fairly confident, maybe content is a better word, with the inside players on the offensive line.
But at the tackle slots, where the Rebels lost both starters in Laremy Tunsil and Fahn Cooper, things are presently a little more dicey.
Consequently, when the media got a spring shot at OL Coach Matt Luke, the attention was mainly on the tackle positions and, in particular, converted tight end Jeremy Liggins, who started spring training at right tackle and is now working both sides.
"I've been really pleased with Jeremy," assessed Luke. "Alex (Givens) has also done well and we are working Sean (Rawlings) at center and tackle. Jeremy is really, really athletic, so I've been pleased with what he's done the first four days. Alex is a very talented kid for where he is as a redshirt freshman. He's still inexperienced with no game reps, so these spring reps will be important for him. Sean did a good job being thrown in the fire last year and he's doing well now working two positions - center and RT."
More on Liggins. . . .
"Jeremy has some carryover from the reps we got him last spring and during bowl practices, so that is good," continued Luke. "We're still in the early stages of the install, but what we've done, he has retained it all very well. We're going pretty slow right now because of all the new kids we are having to teach as we go, but I like how Jeremy has grasped everything to this point.
"He just looks more comfortable this time around at tackle. He doesn't look out of place like last spring. The communication with the other guys is good, certainly not foreign to him. He's embracing the role of being an OL now whereas last spring he was still clinging to tight end and last season we did have to play him at tight end due to need."
Rod Taylor and Robert Conyers are both out with injuries this spring, but they are also tackle candidates. Conyers has played extensively at center and tackle and Luke is grooming Rawlings the same way - to be prepared to play both.
"Sean is pretty natural at snapping the ball, but things happen differently inside. Things move on you a little bit more where tackle is a bit easier mentally," noted Luke. "It's can be tougher at tackle physically because you are out there by yourself, but mentally at center there is more flying around you and you are going against a bigger, stronger athlete in there too, so there is that challenge. I know Sean can handle tackle and I really believe in time he will be a good center as well. He just have to get used to the position."
Sophomore Guard Javon Patterson started the first few games last season, but when fifth-year starter Aaron Morris rounded back into form from a knee rehab, Javon was used sparingly the rest of the season.
"Javon did nothing wrong. He was a phenomenal true freshman, unbelievable, but as Aaron got back into shape, his experience won out in the latter stages of the season. Javon, however, was very good with the snaps he got last year and he is ready to go this spring," Luke stated. "I have also been pleased with the way Jordan Sims, who came on strong last year, has shown up so far this spring. His experience is starting to show. Also, Bouldin is doing better. I think we are going to see him emerge this spring."
Luke wishes he had Taylor and Conyers available for spring to ramp up the competition and to see how Taylor would handle tackle. His prowess as a guard is a known.
"It would be nice to have them out here, but I'd rather have them healthy for August practice than out here now," he stated. "Besides, this gives Givens and Michael Howard and Jacob Feeley and Eli Johnson and some others more opportunities this spring."
The OL watch will continue throughout spring and into fall camp, particularly when the talented group of signees is thrown into the mix, but Luke is optimistic how things are going thus far.
"We have some big shoes to fill from last year, but I feel confident we can get it done," he closed.
If so, Liggins will have to play a major part in the equation.
So far, for Jeremy, so good.