Ole Miss' senior Center Corey Actis said it was "no big deal" compared to what some of the other players have gone through this year, but after 15 weeks of grind-it-out football without a break, his body was starting to break down in minor ways.
"The biggest thing was my hands we always swollen and bruised," said Actis after the open week break. "(OL) Coach (Art) Kehoe said I was losing my punch on a defensive lineman. We punch with flat hands and thumbs tight and my hands were always swollen and achy. Now, they are fine.
"My legs are fresh and my mind is clear. My mind and body are healed. Little injuries don't stop you, but they wear you down mentally eventually. It feels good getting back to normal heading into the final two games."
It's a good thing Corey is 100% because it will take, and some, that to combat what he will and the other OL will be facing this week in the talented LSU defensive line, led by All-American DT Glenn Dorsey, a veritable wrecking machine.
"I watched film on him and he's special. We faced him last year and we know he's a good player, but if we are assignment-sound I think we can do alright against him and the rest of them," Actis stated with matter-of-fact certainty. "Dorsey is a great player, no doubt, and he is flanked by other great players, but we face similar talent every week in this league.
"We are not in awe or intimidated. We respect them, but we have a job to do and we anticipate going out there and doing it. I consider it an honor to line up across from Dorsey. A lot of people believe he should win the Heisman Trophy and from what I have seen I wouldn't argue the point, but we are in this league for a reason too and it's because we know how to play the game too."
Corey said he was elated when he saw Ohio State get taken down by Illinois last Saturday.
"I knew that meant LSU would be number one when they came in here and that's a dream come true for any player, to play against the best," he noted. "That will mean more fans, more exposure, more challenge, more atmosphere, more everything. It's what you work so hard for, an opportunity like this.
"We will prepare for the game like it's just another tough SEC battle, but mentally in the back of our minds, we know the difference in number one in the nation and playing on CBS and the other games. We will not be flat, I can promise that."
While playing LSU is something special, that's not the objective, Corey said.
"It's special to be lining up against the number one team, but our goal is to beat them, not just play them," Actis said. "That's something we'd remember for a long, long time, probably the rest of our lives."
The Rebels came very close to defeating the Tiger juggernaut last season, losing 23-20 in overtime in Baton Rouge.
"We can take some things from that game. We believe we can beat them based on last year and based on how we did against Florida here this year, who was number three in the nation at the time," Corey cotninued. "If I hadn't had a couple of dumb penalties and we had made one or two more plays, we would have beaten Florida.
"We know we can play with anybody. It's not going to be like 'crap, they are number one so we need to just show up and get it over with.' We are coming into the game knowing we can play with them and win, despite whatever else has happened this year. We have proven we can play with anyone, LSU included."
With that being said, what, in Actis' mind, has been the fine line in winning and losing for the Rebels?
"I think it's knowing how to win and capitalizing on the opportunities when they arise. We just have not had anyone step up and make the game-winning play for us and it could come from anywhere at anytime," said Corey. "And we get someone down, we have to keep pounding and pounding. We were up on LSU last year 20-7 in the fourth quarter and it seemed like we just let off just a little. We can't do that. It's a lot about timing and consistency. If you stay consistent and then step up when your opportunity pops up, good things happen."
Actis is coming to the close of his two-year stint at Ole Miss after arriving from a California JC.
His brief tenure, during which he has been a starter most of the time, has been everything he wanted.
"It's been better than I expected. I didn't know what I was getting into at first and got off to a slow start football-wise with a poor first spring, but I learned what I had to do in that time frame and went to work. From there, it's all been real good," Actis explained. "It has meant a lot to me to play in the SEC and go against guys like Dorsey."
Having said that, he wants to go out with a bang.
"We need to end this year on a good note. We need two SEC wins to cap this year and leave something for these younger guys to build on," he closed. "That's our goal and it starts this week against LSU."
Corey Actis -
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