Putting It Together

Rebel Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson is still putting together the puzzle of the 2010 OL, but he knows the formula - hard work - will let the pieces fit in the long haul. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss OL Coach Mike Markuson, who is also the Co-Offensive Coordinator, has been where he is now before.

A couple of veterans stepping up and some younger guys who need to.

"A lot of years are like this one. This is nothing new, where you are working in new guys to go with some veterans," Mike began. "We just have to make it work."

It's well-documented, the center position is up for grabs between A.J. Hawkins and Evan Swindall.

"A.J. moves well, has long arms and can latch on, he has some bend to him and is strong," Markuson noted. "Swindall gives great effort and has a great shotgun snap. He's hard-nosed. Both are coachable, but both have to keep working to get it right. We just have to perfect our snaps and go from there.

"A.J. has had a little shut off switch, but he's gotten better there as well. I am a believer in you play how you practice. You have to practice on an SEC level to perform in games. The games reflect how you practice."

Markuson has been pleased with the tackle slots, manned by veteran Bradley Sowell on the left side and sophomore Bobby Massie on the right.

Mike Markuson

"I feel very good about the tackle slots. Brad is a lot more experienced and is playing at a very high level. Last year, he was feeling his way through. Now, he's doing a really nice job. His passing blocking is much better," Mike said. "Bobby doesn't have as much experience, but he's come on as well. Both of those guys want to be good and they work hard at it. I feel good about both of them."

Mike said he feels relatively comfortable with eight OL right now. Sowell, Massie, the two starting guards - Rishaw Johnson and Alex Washington, both centers, Mike Brown and Emmanuel McCray figure in for sure. Logan Clair and freshman Jared Duke are also on the cusp of that comfort by their coach. Terrence Hackney has also shown flashes.

"Right now, I'm OK with eight guys and we are continuing to work with a couple of more younger guys like Duke and Hackney, who have both shown some good things," he explained. "I think things will settle down a bit once we get into game preparations. That will help us become more cohesive, I believe.

"Logan is hanging in there. I'm feeling more comfortable with Duke and Hackney as the days click by."

Bobby Massie

Mike constantly plays the "what if" game. What if someone got hurt?

"If we are in the middle of the game, we will go with the guy who has been getting reps at that position in practice and then we might shuffle things around the next week in practice to get our next best guy on the OL in there," he stated. "We are always doing 'next.' We always will."

Mike is also aware his OL is going against a "very good" defensive front every day.

"When we make a play, I'm pretty happy because I know what we are going against. Those guys on our defense play low to the ground, they move around well and they fit very well, as experienced players do," he closed. "When they are full speed, they are hard to deal with.

"No question, when we do something well against them, we know we are making progress and we know we can do it against anybody."

OM Spirit Top Stories