Rambling on a slow day. . .

Folks who cover the Rebs have had very little time to "breath" in the last five weeks. With no practice today and the coaches out of town, here's an opportunity to "clean up" some thoughts about the Rebs and get caught up a little. Read about it inside.

Rambling thoughts on the Rebs. . .

* It looks like freshman RG Michael Oher may get his first start before anticipated, possibly as soon as Vanderbilt. Thomas Eckers, who started at Memphis, didn't do a poor job - grading 78% on the day, but it was apparent the OL needs more "beef" and Oher is one of the beefiest at 330-plus pounds. Is he ready? Ideally, it would be nice for him to have another couple of weeks to prepare for his debut, but out of necessity the coaches are probably going to have to ask him learn on the run. Then again, they may change their minds in next week's practices and stick with Eckers.

* OK, which is it? A great back makes an average line look better or a great line makes an average back look better? OC Noel Mazzone points to former Rebel RB John Avery as an example of the former. Most fans believe the latter. Either way, it doesn't seem to matter at this point because the Rebs have neither a great back nor a great line at this time. Hopefully, something can pop up in that direction before we start going against some of the more physical DLs in the SEC.

* Coach Ed Orgeron is fire and brimstone in practice. He said from the jump that practices would be harder than games and told each player that factoid collectively and individually. They believe him now, if they didn't before. Several told me after the Memphis game that it was a "walk in the park" compared to O's practices. I believed it from the first practice last spring. It was proven to be true last Monday when not many Rebs showed signs of fatigue or injury because of the way they train and practice.

* I have to be honest - when you have watched O's demeanor in practice as much as I have, I had to wonder how he would react in games. I watched him closely and found him to be cool, calm, confident and collected on the sidelines in the Liberty Bowl. His emotions - except for a couple of times - were in check and he took care of business in a positive way. The dude's got it figured out - drill master in practice, having fun in games. Pretty good combo, I'd say.

* Along those lines, the management of the game was not bad either. Sure, he had the snafu at halftime, but that won't happen again. Just some miscommunication with who was supposed to be telling him how much time was left on the clock - easily remedied and no harm done. There were a couple of delay calls, again easily rectified. Beyond that, everything seemed to go smoothly with personnel groupings, subbing, getting calls in on time, getting the right plays in, sideline management and total yardage lost due to penalty (25). Very good sideline discipline for the first time out of the box, IMO.

* One thing I have noticed about this staff is their brutal honesty about things that aren't going right and their instant attack to fix them. Running game not clicking? A new plan and a new attack was immediate in developing and initiating in practice. QB not hitting the passes downfield? Practice in that area was lengthened and emphasized. Kicking game woes? Double up on the field goal kicking in practice. There's no hesitation to say there is a problem and less time taken going about correcting it.

* Coach O said when he was hired that players would earn their positions in practice every day. That yesterday buys you the first snap of tomorrow and not beyond. That philosophy is not lip service. Ask any player who has been jerked off their perch - and 95% of them have in August - and "demoted." It's a good thing when a coach says something and means it. That way, there is no confusion in what's going to happen when you don't produce. There's no "skating" going on based on reputation or what you did last week. Effective concept.

* Another thing Orgeron does not do is sit around and suck his thumb over injuries or player departures. "You're injured? Man, sorry, get well soon, but we're moving on.". . . "You're leaving? Wish you wouldn't, but see ya'." Of course, those are exaggerations, but only a little. One player does not stop this show and no player is bigger than the team. Fretting is not O's way or his staff's way. You coach what you've got and push on. Casualties, while regretted, are not dwelled on.

* The simplicity of the offensive sets used against Memphis has been discussed some postgame. I think that's a waste of breath, for the most part, for two reasons. One, the package will be expanded as the QBs get more and more comfortable. Two, the few plays we did run against Memphis were wide open. All a coach can do is get players open and in a position to make plays. With that happening regularly last Monday, why expand or try to pull something out of your hat that the QBs are not comfortable with? I like it simple. Simple is why the defense worked and simple should have worked more effectively for the offense.

* How good is our defense? I think we have the potential to be very good, but I'm not basing a lot of that on the Memphis game, who had an inexperienced OL and a freshman QB. I'm basing it on watching this thing called college football closely for most of my life. We've got some talent on that side of the ball, but I will reserve most of my opinion until we face an SEC-caliber offense. No offense to the Tigers, but they ain't one of them. On the other hand, we've got enough size, excellent speed at most positions and the right system in place for them to succeed and reach the "very good" status.

* Is there hope for the OL? Certainly, but I don't think there is an instant fix. More experience needs to be gained, which is why the first three games are crucial. Despite a mediocre OL performance against Memphis, we got the 'W.' Hopefully, we will see some improvement against Vandy and get another victory. Same versus Wyoming. Then, we'll see how good we can become. To borrow a cliche', experience is the best teacher. After three games, we'll have a little and see what we can bring to the table after that.

* What about Vandy? If we improve with the open week and with first game corrections as much as I think we can, we will win it, but I believe improvement is necessary for us to head back to Oxford from Nashville 2-0. Vandy is about like Memphis - overall, except with a much better QB. Good QBs can't do it alone, but they can carry a team to greater heights than their overall talent would indicate. Jay Cutler is that type of QB, in my most humble opinion.

OM Spirit Top Stories