Dan Werner

With the season opener of the 2006 Ole Miss season a scant few days away, Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner is trying to spit shine his product that will be unveiled Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Read about it inside.

In the past three weeks, Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Dan Werner has been asked just about every question imagineable about the Rebel scorers.

Based on what he and Head Coach Ed Orgeron have said during fall camp, we got straight to the points of concern in a recent media opportunity with the boss of the offense.

Any progress with the young wide receivers, coach?

"I think those guys are getting better each day. The big question about guys who have never played in games before is how will they react under the lights? That's what we are looking for," Werner said. "We have tried to put the young wide receivers in those types of game-like situations as much as we can and as much as possible.

"The guys who are doing the best in those situations in pactice are the ones we will put out there."

And who are the ones doing the best? You won't get the list narrowed down very much.

"Honestly, they are all about the same right now," he continued. "They are all getting a look right now. In the next couple of days, we will make some final decisions on our rotation.

"We will have to play more than three guys in the heat of September, but that's the luxury we do have - we have a lot of guys on the same level right now. Last year, they only had three or four guys they felt comfortable putting out there and they got worn down. We've got a bunch of guys we can put in there in certain situations and feel comfortable with."

A new name in the wide receiver corps that popped up yesterday in Coach Orgeron's press conference was true frosh Markeith Summers, who has started "getting it" the last few days and has now surfaced on the may-get-playing-time radar.

"Markeith had a great practice the other day and is one of the guys in the mix," Dan noted. "I'm not trying to evade questions, but all of them are at about the same level.

"What we have to do is find out what each guy does best and use them in those situations."

Werner is pretty set with his offense in every other position.

At tailback, he likes the 1-2-3, even 4, combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mico McSwain, Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall, in that order, at the position.

"We hope to play them all Saturday. BenJarvus and Mico are the main guys, but Cordera and Bruce have had good camps too," he explained. "We haven't talked about redshirting anyone (true frosh Eason or any of the other newcomers) yet. We will play a lot of young guys, I know that, and Cordera is in the mix.

"We will see how things go. We want our best guys out there and feel our conditioning will hold up with anyone in the country, but we know at that position we can run a bunch of guys out there to stay fresh if we need to."

Werner was asked if the offensive line has gelled some in the past three weeks.

"That's the biggest thing we wanted to do - get the right guys in there and have them come together as a group, and I can see that happening," he stated. "When you have a lot of young guys - not only up front, but all over - you have to be smart with what you do with them.

"We have to put them in situations where they can succeed and not ask them to do things they aren't capable of doing yet. The wide receivers, for instance. Some of them don't know all the 'hots' and sight adjustments, so we have to be smart with them."

Dan will be facing a tricky defense when he squares off against Memphis Defensive Coordinator Joe Lee Dunn, but he's been exposed to Dunn before.

"They run a defense that not many teams run and they give you a lot of different looks. When you go against your own defense all spring and all fall - where you see certain fronts and coverages - you get used to it. Our defense is more like what most people do, so it has a carryover to most teams we will face. But the work we've done against our defense in spring and fall camp does not have much carryover to what Joe Lee will do," Werner said. "We just have to gameplan for it and give the guys plenty of his looks with the service team work we do.

"I have coached against Joe Lee a couple of times in my career and I know you have to expect some things you don't normally prepare for. I was a graduate assistant at Miami and he was at South Carolina and I believe he was here when I was at Louisiana Tech in 1991. He goes from one DL to four DL and everything in between."

Werner is satisfied with the progress QB Brent Schaeffer, as he has stated many times previously, the backfield and the tight ends.

"We have playmakers at those positions. It's up to us to put them in the right positions to make plays," he repeated. "We have seen that guys like Brent, Robert Lane, BenJarvus, Mico, Lawrence Lilly, Mike Wallace and some more can make plays. Now we have to make sure we are smart in our use of them."

Werner is pretty calm, cool and collected. He's been in college coaching more than a quarter of a century.

It should be interesting to see the chess game between him and Dunn.

It's just around the next corner. Sunday, to be exact.

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