Seeing Green

While lacking in ideal size and superior athletic ability, senior guard Brandon Green is proving more than serviceable as a starter along Ole Miss' recently resurgent offensive line.

Notching his second start of the season in a 30-17 win over Arkansas last weekend, the 6-foot-2, 305-pounder saw the Rebel offense total the most yards (553) since 2004, including 221 yards rushing on 47 carries.

"Brandon's an older guy. He cares and is a fighter," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. "Maybe he's not as tall as you like or as quick as you like. But one thing (right tackle) John Jerry and (center) Daverin Geralds know, they know they can count on him. They know he knows who to block. They know he's a fighter. That's what it's about."

"The thing about Brandon is he just brings toughness to us," Geralds added. "Coach is always messing with him saying he's a little warrior. He just plays hard and he works hard at his position. Being a senior, he's just a relentless. He gives everything he has."

Even more, however, a much-maligned offensive line found chemistry in a crucial contest for both teams, leading the charge of what would be a dominant effort for Ole Miss offensively.

Along with the season-high in total yards, the Rebels recorded 31 first downs to only 13 for Arkansas in the win. With open running lanes created, senior all-purpose gem Dexter McCluster became the first Rebel in the modern era (since 1965) to top the 100-yard mark in both rushing and receiving.

"It's such a huge boost to get a conference win against a quality opponent," said Green. "They had Malcolm Sheppard. I'm not going to lie, the kid was a beast. They were all good. That front seven was some of the best you'll see every week. It really helped us think it out. This week, we're going to get the same kind of guys, but just a different size."

Green, who saw minimal time in 10 games last season on special teams, has been a welcomed addition to the offensive line with inconsistency plaguing the unit over seven games.

Though Arkansas entered Oxford having registered six sacks against No. 1 Florida a week prior, none were allowed Saturday. In turn, junior quarterback Jevan Snead logged his first career 300-yard passing performance, along with two touchdowns.

"I took it really personal from the coaches last week. But you have to keep taking it personal every day," said Green. "We practiced hard all week. We brought our hard hat and lunch pail which is what you have to do in this conference. It came to us on Saturday.

"It was still hard work, with them being SEC guys. We face the best guys week in and week out, but it seemed like it all came together last week. And when you're grinding with the guy next to you like that, it doesn't get much better."

After a promising performance, Green and company are using this practice week as a building block toward improvement, as an 11:21 a.m. meeting with Auburn on the SEC Network looms Saturday.

The Tigers are paced by senior defensive end Antonio Coleman, who leads the team with seven tackles for loss. Coleman also ranks sixth in school history with 18 career quarterback sacks.

"They've got some physical guys and have a pretty good defense. It's always man-on-man," Green said. "They're not going to slant you. It's best-on-best. That's all you can do – hope you're better than the guys across from you."

Not since a six-game winning streak to end 2008 has the Ole Miss offense had a better performance than against Arkansas.

The insertion of Green, along with the heroics of McCluster, has given dangerous confidence to a once lifeless offense needing a spark.

"We're going to take off. Like Coach Nutt has been saying, just like we did last year, we're fixing to take off," Green said. "It feels about the same as last year, but we still have to work hard. It doesn't just happen. You've got to go to work. You determine how you play on Saturday by how you work during the week. But there are similarities. You've just really got to believe if you want to be somewhere in January. It's fun to get those bowl gifts."

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