Another major test

Week after week, game after game, in the Southeastern Conference, the most challenging job has to be that of an offensive coordinator. Another big time defense headed Kent Austin's way. Read about it inside.

There must be mornings when Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin wakes up and wonders why he didn't get into carpentry, dentistry, law - anything but trying to combat the grueling, week-after-week barrage of SEC defenses.

There must be an easier way to earn a living. . .

Austin and his troops face another major test this week when they take on No. 10 LSU, who, coincidentally, boasts of the 10th-ranked scoring defense in the nation and third-rated in the SEC, allowing just 13.7 points per outing.

"They are really big, really fast. They have excellent team speed," said Austin, smiling and sighing at the same time. "Watching them on film, I'm really impressed with their tackling ability in the open field. They also don't give up big plays.

"We have a very big challenge on our hands. In my opinion, they are one of the better defenses we've played this year. They are very comparable to Alabama."

Austin's key to the game is basic. Get down and dirty.

"We will have to control the line of scrimmage and protect Jevan (Snead) to have a chance," Kent continued. "We have to be aware of where a lot of their players are at all times.

"We have to have a comprehensive plan. We can't just focus on one or two guys. They are too good across the board."

An obvious focal point of the plan revolves around senior Tailback Dexter McCluster. Kent does not worry about becoming too "Dexter heavy."

"We have to put him in a position to be successful and we are constantly working on things that make us less predictable, but he's a big part of our plan, obviously," Austin explained. "They will key on Dexter and we will try to be creative in ways to get him the ball.

"It's easier with Dexter because he knows a bunch of positions. Just when you think he's going to get overloaded mentally from an assignment standpoint, he just keeps absorbing more. He's really got very high football intelligence."

Austin and the offensive staff have had to carefully plan their protections and blocking schemes with the "new" lineup consisting of John Jerry sliding in to the guard slot and Bobby Massie taking over right tackle.

"We're still heavily conscious on our protections and what protections we are using. We still have some issues there with how we are gameplanning our protections," Austin noted. "We have to be careful of the protections we use and call based on our personnel."

Another change has been the use of Brandon Bolden in multiple roles, something Bolden is handling very well, according to Kent.

"Brandon is a lot like Dexter in that he's very bright and very versatile. He's unselfish and a guy we can rely on not to make mental mistakes," Austin stated.

Are Austin and the Rebel offensive troops ready for the Tigers?

Saturday afternoon will tell the tale, but last week Tennessee invaded Oxford with the third-rated defense in the SEC and left with the sixth-ranked defense.

A repeat performance? We'll see.

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