Texas Tech Offensive Guard Brandon Carter, a Sporting News and AFCA All-American selection, sat at an elevated table surrounded by reporters at the Cotton Bowl media center looking like the giant out of Jack and the Beanstalk.
At 6-7, 354 pounds, he's an imposing figure, even sitting down. To give it some perspective, he's slightly bigger than the Rebs' John Jerry, a hulk in his own right.
The soft-spoken giant was asked about the wide line splits the Tech OL, guided by Coach Matt Moore, employs.
"There are pros and cons," said Carter. "We feel like the benefit is that we have room to operate and aren't tripping on each other in run blocking plus the outside rushers have a little further to go to get to the quarterback.
"But the cons are that each lineman is kind of on an island. If you mess up your technique, you are going to get exposed and they are going to get a sack or a tackle for a loss."
Apparently, the Red Raiders don't slip up in their offensive line execution often.
As the engine of the high-octane Tech offense, the offensive line has only given up 11 sacks all year, but Carter understands the Rebels' defensvie line presents major challenges, starting with All-American DT Peria Jerry.
"From watching film of him, he's definitely the best player I will probably ever play against on this level," Carter noted. "Peria is awesome, a great talent. I'll be going head to head with him and I'm excited about the challenge.
"He's an All-American, I'm an All-American and I know we will both be jacked up for the game. I'm also sure there will be times when we expose each other. I'll be lined up against number 98 some of the time and those are the matchups you crave in this game. It's not very often you get to match your skills with someone as good as he is, but that's what competition is all about."
Carter said the Rebel defenisve line reminds him of the defensive fronts from Texas and Oklahoma.
"They are a little like Texas and a little like Oklahoma. Both those teams have great defensive lines and so does Ole Miss," he continued. "Ole Miss has a lot of speed, like Oklahoma, and good size, like Texas. I rank Ole Miss right there with those teams on the DL.
"Our biggest challenge is to play with our technique. Like I said earlier, if you lose your technique, they have guys who are good enough and fast enough to find it and expose you."
The Red Raiders have thrown the ball 604 times for 5004 yards. Staggering numbers, for sure. And while doing so, they have - as stated - given up only 11 QB sacks.
"We are really proud of that number. Our OL works very hard and we are a tight-knit group. We have faced every challenge so far, but we understand the challenge we will face with Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl," Carter concluded.
On an OL that averages 325 pounds across the front, 292-pound All-Big 12 Center Stephen Hamby is the "little guy."
Like Carter, he has great respect for the Rebel defensive front.
"They are as good as we have seen on film, without a doubt," Hamby said. "They have an All-American and two or three more guys who have to be as good as there is in the SEC. Every number stands out on film - 98, 40, 86, 92, 96, and on and on.
"The thing I noticed is that they play something like 10 guys on their front four and they look like the same players with different numbers."
Hamby said the talent level of the Rebl DL is impressive, but it's the rotation that worries him.
"By playing so many guys, they try to wear you down and get your tired. They rotate, rotate and rotate some more and you are always facing someone with fresh legs and explosivenss," Hamby assessed. "We know we have our work cut out for us."
Hamby is hoping the unity of the Tech OL will offset some of the Rebel depth.
"We don't even have to talk much any more. We know each other so well that we know in advance what the guy next to you is going to do and vice-versa," he closed. "We are very proud of what we have accomplished this year up front.
"Graham (Harrell) and Michael (Crabtree) and those guys get the press, but we know what we have contributed to our ofense and so do they. They tell us every day."
One of the more interesting matches in the Cotton Bowl will be the Rebel DL against the Tech OL.
All parties are eager for the showdown.
Tech front respects Rebel DL
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