Ole Miss Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson has the Rebel OL humming the past four games.
They dominated, for the lack of a better word, both Arkansas and Auburn's touted front seven and have averaged over 250 yards rushing the past four games.
While it's true that number is inflated a bit with the 350 rushing yards against inferior UL-Monroe last weekend, the Rebels have made a loud statement their run blocking has improved by leaps and bounds the second half of the season.
"I told the guys all along if they would just keep working that it would all come around and they have done that," said Markuson. "We are in better sync, we are playing with a better pad level and we are executing better."
That's the good news, and while there really is no bad news, Markuson knows perhaps the toughest challenge of the year faces them in Baton Rouge against LSU.
"Historically, LSU always has the best looking team, in my opinion, of anyone we play," Mike stated. "The inside guys are big and physical. If you don't stay on them by doubling them, they will split you and throw you around.
"They are very athletic and make plays and their second level guys (linebackers) are the same way."
Markuson said it's hard to pick out one standout in the LSU DL.
"They are good across the board. They do a great job recruiting big guys there and they play hard once they get there," said Mike. "They don't give you anything - you earn every yard you get against them. You have to bring your lunch pale when you go down there."
The Tigers' smash mouth approach comes straight from their head coach, Les Miles.
"He likes physical football having cut his teeth in the Big 10," said Markuson. "He's a smash mouth guy and they practice that and play that way. At certain times, you watch the film and ask yourself how you are going to block those guys, but then you grow numb to it because we play great defenses and great defensive fronts it seems every week in our conference.
"Our guys know what is coming at them and they will be ready for it. We just have to go out there and play our game and our guys are looking forward to it. If you are a competitive athlete, you want the ultimate challenge and LSU provides that just about every year."
Since All-American DT Glenn Dorsey graduated from LSU's defensive front last year, one would reasonably think their front would not be as good. That thought, Markuson said, would be false.
"Dorsey was hurt against Arkansas last year when we played them, but they gave Arkansas a full dose without him last year. One guy doesn't stop their show," he added.
Senior TE David Traxler has been out for a few weeks. In his absence, the Rebels have been using OT Bradley Sowell at TE, which has given the OL a little more pop. With Traxler thought to be back, will Sowell still be a part of the gameplan?
"Yes, he factors in. Bradley is a good OL and is athletic. He's helped us and Trax is still nursing his back a little bit, so we are sure there is room for both in our gameplan," Markuson allowed. "Brad gives you a guy who is physical, another 300-pounder up there to help handle those massive DTs and DEs we face all the time. I'm sure we will keep using him in the same capacity."
The Rebs will most likely have to go with a silent snap - no signals being called, and that takes maximum focus, Markuson explained.
"You really have to concentrate and focus on what you are doing," he continued. "We didn't do well with the silent snap in the first half against Florida, but we corrected it at half and have been OK with it since when we have had to use it due to stadium noise.
"Florida was timing up the count and we got a little shook, but once we corrected it we were fine and have been fine since. Daverin (Geralds) has done a nice job handling it so it shouldn't be a problem at LSU."
Mike Markuson -
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