Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson didn't beat around the bush or measure his comments.
The game against Vanderbilt falls under the heading of "big game" and the Rebels need to win it.
Everyone on the team has been thinking the same thing, but Markuson has been the only one to just come out and say it.
"We need a big win. We need an SEC win. These other two wins were great, but we need a win where our guys say 'our coaches are right.' We had a good showing at Wake Forest, but we didn't win," Mike said. "We need to win an SEC game and go from there. It will do more for our team than anything."
Before the Samford game, Markuson said the Rebel OL was not playing with a low enough pad level. After the Samford contest, he saw signs of improvement.
"We had some plays where we were better and what we were emphasizing worked. It's just a continuing process, but I saw them get better in that area," he said. "We just have to keep playing with that type of low pad level. The guys know the level of play is about to get better and they know they have to do things correctly to win."
Markuson says he's got a good idea of what to do if anyone goes down, similar to what happened against Samford when RT John Jerry went out for a few plays. Maurice Miller moved to RT from RG, Darryl Harris moved from LG to RG and Reid Neely was inserted in the lineup at LG.
"We've got a good feel of who will be the next guy at each position and we are practicing those scenarios in practice, so we feel good about that if someone is injured," Mike stated.
Mike feels the Rebel offensive front is starting to come around.
"They are starting to get it. I have always believed if you don't have wholesale change midstream in what you are trying to do schematically and you stick to what you are doing, you can start seeing progress," said Mike. "Rep it, stay with it, believe in it and it will come around."
The Vandy defensive line presents a challenge for the Rebel OL.
"We don't have a lot of experience playing Vanderbilt, but you can see on film their kids play hard. Coach (Bobby) Johnson has been there for seven years and you can see it coming around. They've done a very good job of recruiting. You can tell they are more talented and you can tell their kids are hungry," Markuson evaluated. "They remind me of Jay Cutler's senior year when they came out of the gate undefeated.
"They are physical up front and they are hungry. They do a lot of movement. They slant and twist and they are smart in what they do. They can put you in some bad situations with what they do. We have prepared for the things we think they are going to give us and the scout team has helped prepare us.
"We'll see. Everybody has a new wrinkle for everybody every week. We'll see something new, but they have been pretty consistent in their approach of how they attack people. The big thing is that they fit in well and get where they are supposed to be."
Vandy is one of the leaders in QB sacks in the SEC. Ole Miss is leading the SEC in not giving up sacks. Something has to give. . .
"They are tenacious. If they get you in passing down situations, they are coming after you. That is what they like to do the best," he closed. "The last three teams they have played like to throw the ball a lot, which gives them more opportunities for sacks, but they are very effective in attacking the protections and the opposing QB.
"They don't blitz a whole lot, but they show a variety of ways to line up and come after you. They will try four, five, six and seven man pressures at different times, but again what makes them good is that they execute what is called very well. We will have to be ready for all of it."
Mike Markuson -
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