Senior Center Robert Conyers is held together with tape and polyfoam, but he goes when and for as long as his battle-wrecked legs will let him. Lately, that has not been a lot.
Right Tackle Sean Rawlings enjoys moving in to the center spot when Robert can't go. Robert couldn't go much against Auburn two games ago and, lo and behold, Rawlings got injured as well. They gutted out the Auburn game, but didn't practice heading into the contest with Georgia Southern.
That left Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke scrambling, again. He had already had to play some musical chairs when Left Tackle Rod Taylor went down three weeks ago with a high ankle sprain and in the same game, Right Guard Jordan Sims also injured his ankle the same week (LSU). Fortunately, Sims was able to play against Auburn.
But now, with both centers out, someone would have to snap the ball. Luke tried Left Guard Javon Patterson and Sims, and Patterson got the nod. For recap purposes, the makeshift OL versus Georgia Southern was freshman LT Greg Little, Sims at LG taking Patterson's normal place, Patterson at center, Daronte Bouldin at right guard and redshirt freshman Alex Givens at right tackle.
It was a lot to ask of Patterson, to make all the line calls and make sure the freshmen tackles were on the same page with everyone, but he did it without batting an eye and played well against the Eagles in a 37-27 Rebel win.
"I had a couple of bad snaps, but otherwise, I was pleased with how I played," said Javon. "I had my boys - Jordan, Daronte, Greg, Alex - flanking me, so that helped. It was fun.
"We have to be multiple and versatile. I think all our guys are versatile and capable of playing more than one position. I was happy to help. We are all willing to step up when asked to and do something out of the box, so to speak."
Georgia Southern stopped the Rebel run game, and offense really, for a couple of possessions, but Javon knew that wouldn't last long.
"We just all had to get on the same page and feel out what Georgia Southern was doing defensively," he said. "They put in some new stuff for us and we had to adjust on the fly, which is hard to do with new guys at nearly every position on the OL. They had some stunts that we had to get used to, but once we did, I think we scored four TDs in the second quarter on four straight possessions."
Senior DE Fadol Brown's situation was sort of reversed.
He has been the one, slowly but surely, coming off the injury list with a foot injury that has painfully gone on for over nine months.
Saturday, when fellow senior DE John Youngblood went down with what looked to be a year-ending ankle injury, Fadol, who has been very limited in his snaps, came through in spades, playing most the snaps the rest of the way.
"I did what I had to do. I went out there and tried to make plays for my teammates," he said humbly. "I made some plays and felt good out there. It was a blessing, I asked God not to take football away from me and He came through for me at just the right time.
"I felt a whole lot better today. I think I could have played every snap. I am excited about the rest of the year."
Brown said he has been badly missing football and the small taste of snaps he got versus LSU and Auburn made him thirst for more.
"I didn't want to get more reps at the expense of John getting hurt, but the Lord works in His own way sometimes and it just worked out that way," he stated. "John went down and I started feeling better. We had to rally around him and for him and we did and I was glad to help as much as I did."
Georgia Southern gashed the Rebels early with the run game, but Fadol said the coaches made some good adjustments on the fly and from there the defense held its own.
"We started fitting things up and executing. The coaches changed a couple of little things to stop the stuff up the middle and we did a better job of executing the edge containment, for the most part, and that was that," he said. "After they hit us with the explosive run, where we just couldn't get the call communicated, we settled down and shut them down."
Someone goes down, someone steps up.
Sometimes that's just the nature of the game of football.
Javon Patterson and Fadol Brown, last Saturday, were two prime examples.