Rebel Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach Mike Markuson gave Wake Forest some credit for the Rebs' lack of production in the running game last Saturday, but he was also quick to point out the Rebels can do much better.
"Wake Forest did a good job with movement and getting underneath us with their defensive front guys, but our running game was not near what it can be," said Markuson. "I was not happy with our run fits and we didn't keep our pads down enough.
"We just have to do a better job of playing lower, moving our feet and fitting our blocks. Overall, that was the most discouraging thing with my guys, but I'll say this - they fought and hung in there and we made plays when we had to in order to get back in the game and actually take a late lead. We are building on getting our run fits right and to do that we will have a little more contact against our DL this week."
Since spring, Mike has been pounding the theme of getting more physical. Last week, it was more the technique.
"It's really a little of both," he explained. "Line play is about leverage and getting under people. We had some good fits, but overall we weren't good enough for an entire game with our techniques. We are working hard to get better at it and to get more physical still. The guys are buying in. They know, they watch the film and they are trying to get better.
"We have become more physical since spring, but it's still not an every snap thing with us yet. If you stand around and play too high, you are going to get beat. Same happens when you play a little soft on a play or two here and there. What was poor Saturday is that we had too many one and two-yard run gains. We need bigger plays. We just have to be patient and keep working and they will come."
Mike said there's also some feeling out and experience issues with the young backs.
"We have a little bit of uncertainty and inexperience in our backfield right now. They are still getting used to that group in front of them. They just have to get more and more reps to get a better feel for the OL," he noted. "We'll get better at it. They are learning the speed of the game and learning they don't have a lot of time to think about anything if a hole is there. They just have to get downhill in a hurry and hit it. It all works hand-in-hand - the guys up front getting their fits and the guys carrying the ball seeing it, getting used to what's there and hitting the opening hard.
"We are going to keep repping it until we get it right."
In Houston Nutt's Monday press conference, he was pleased with the pass protection, overall.
What about Mike?
"I thought Michael Oher and Darryl Harris did very well. I thought John Jerry struggled at times with his guy, but he was going against a very good football player for Wake," Markuson said. "Jevan also scrambled out of some stuff and seems to be getting a feel for how the OL moves and protects, which is important as well. A QB has to have a feel for how the OL operates and be able to make the necessary adjustments when protection breaks down. Jevan has that knack.
"We struggled in the third quarter. Wake had their ears laid back and were coming after us and that's when we have to bow up in pass protection. We did most of the time and we also hit a draw late in the third quarter that backed them off some. We'll keep dialing it up and working on it."
Mike said he's pleased with the progress of the backups, but he's not a free, liberal substitution coach unless absolutely necessary.
"Bradley Sowell, Rishaw Johnson, Reid Neely, who is our sixth man, and Brandon Green are doing some good things, but a player told me a long time ago that it hurt him to sit out series rather than staying out there, heating up and getting a feel for the game," Mike closed. "I believe that wholesale subbing breaks continuity up front.
"The backups' day is coming, but it's hard to wait on your turn sometimes."
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