Hugh Freeze -

At the start of the season, the Rebel coaching staff expressed concerns about the tight end slot in terms of tried-and-true backup play. When starter Robert Lane went down with an injury a few weeks back, nobody knew what to expect, but the backups came through with flying colors. Read about it inside.

Senior TE Lawrence Lilly didn't start the 2006 campaign the way he, or the coaches, expected him to.

Junior Tight End Robert Hough was considered "too small" to be productive in the grind-it-out running game Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner believes in.

But when starting TE Robert Lane went down with an injury several weeks back - and missed two games due to a banged up knee, Lilly and Hough both upped their games.

"Now, we feel like we have three tight ends who can get the job done in different ways," said TE Coach Hugh Freeze. "Robert graded 92% against Northwestern State and gave great effort. He was outstanding and has gotten better on a weekly basis.

"What Robert does is play with a lot of passion and heart and he does the little things we need done that winners do."

Freeze has always had faith in Hough, but what was being called earlier in the year did not include former Reb Charlie Anderson's little brother much of an opportunity to show his skills.

"We were only getting him eight or nine snaps a game because of what we were calling and trying to establish, but since Lane got hurt, we have changed some things up to include Hough and he's responded," Hugh explained. "He may be a little undersized for a pure tight end, and we have had to move him around some to help him be more productive, but I like the fire he brings to the position.

"Fans need to put their binoculars on Hough a few plays and they'll see what I'm talking about. I love his aggression and the way he gets after people. What he does usually doesn't show in the stat sheet, but the coaches know what he's doing to help make plays work."

Lilly has also improved with the added opportunity.

"Lawrence stepped up when we needed him the most. He's more of a pure tight end because of his size. He has picked up his blocking effectiveness and all the things we have been teaching since spring are registering with him now, and have been for a few weeks," Freeze noted.

When Lane came back healthy, the coaches decided to leave Lilly at the true/typical TE slot and move the two Roberts around, putting them at fullback some, in the slot some, in motion, etc.

"We've been able to create some opportunities for both of them by moving them around and looking for openings for them," Hugh continued. "I think both of them are more effective coming at defenses from different angles and out of different positions.

"And the good thing about it is that both of them are bright enough to learn their different assignments from week to week and are able to execute what they are supposed to out of different sets and positions."

Rebel TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is approaching the 100-yard rushing barrier. Freeze said the TEs have had a hand in that and take pride in BJGE's hoped-for achievement.

"We feel like we are a part of blocking for Ben and the other backs," said Hugh. "We take pride in that and our weekly goal is for Ben and the other backs to get over 100 yards rushing every week.

"Honestly, we didn't know he was as close as he is, but now I will preach it even more to my guys that we have to do our part to help him get there. That's a good achievement that all of us will share a piece of."

In the meantime, with only two games remaining, Freeze is looking for the tight ends, and the Rebels, to finish with a bang.

"It's taken us some time, but we finally have all three of our top tight ends situated and healthy and doing what we expect of them," he closed. "We have also made a lot of progress with the OL.

"Our goal is to put everything together and click the last two games offensively. The tight ends will be a big part of that happening."

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