Rogers Loche came to Ole Miss last August and redshirted his first season. In the spring of 2006, the linebacker from Bastrop, La., made a move to get on the field for his redshirt freshman season.
Currently a likely backup at LB but a participant on special teams, the 6-foot, 238-pound Loche says the spring was good for his improvement, and the summer has been productive as well.
"After spring practice when I thought about what I had to improve on, basically it was my whole, all-around game," said Loche, who took the majority of second-team snaps at "Mike" linebacker in the spring. "There's a lot of areas I have to improve, from film study to knowing opposing offenses and where to line up at all times on the field and knowing where everybody else on the field is supposed to be."
The three-time high school all-state selection in Louisiana said he thought his spring was good but he'd still give himself only an average grade.
"I'd say about a C," he said. "With Patrick Willis being out during the spring, I got a lot of snaps. But there's still a lot of stuff I know I can get better on."
As for the 2006 season, Loche says he hopes to contribute.
"Backing up Patrick Willis, who is obviously a very good player, is important," said Loche, who had a game-high 10 solo tackles in the Red-Blue game back in April. "I have to be ready in case something happens to him. And on special teams I want to do whatever I can to help Ole Miss be successful."
One area he wanted to improve in the spring and continues to improve over the summer was his lateral movement, running side to side to make plays.
"I feel I improved that," he said. "We have a great strength program, a great speed and conditioning program. I think my lateral side to side movement has improved a whole lot. I feel faster on the field. I feel like I'm also getting better at straight-ahead movement. But I'm also feeling a lot better about side to side movement."
He says he feels good about being up to 238 pounds as well.
"That's kinda where they want me to be. That seems to be a good body weight for me. In the SEC and playing middle linebacker, I need to be about right there. So that's good for me as far as my weight."
Loche says after having been here a year, he's much more comfortable with everything, including the system and how to go about dealing with the ins and outs of being in college and playing football on this level.
"I knew it would take some time. Knowing the defense will get you on the field quicker than not knowing the defense. So it's a good benefit to be here for a year, especially for me. I know that if you know the defense, then you are more confident and will play better."
Loche says playing behind Willis is a learning experience, and one he hopes to draw a lot from when it's his time.
"It's like playing behind a guy like Eli Manning. You just learn so much from a guy who is going to be a professional athlete someday. Just taking time with him and watching how he does things, in games and in practices, talking and learning and taking in whatever he tells me. It's a real good benefit. If you go to him, he will always try to help you and answer whatever you ask. I really appreciate him being that way with us."
Loche believes he has a place on special teams for the 2006 season.
"I think I'll be on kickoff coverage and kickoff return. I think they will have me out there to try to be a good playmaker on special teams. I'm looking forward to that."
Injuries have been nagging ones for Loche. He feels he's 100 percent now.
"I feel I'm in the best shape going into camp that I've ever been in. I know that will help me as camp rolls around and I'm excited about that."
Loche says the summer has been important, and his mental approach has been a big part of it.
"I've just taken the attitude that I might be the starter at anytime, just in case. I just want to be ready when called on. When I get into that position, I want to be ready. That's been my attitude and approach all summer."
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