Extra film study has helped Evan Engram become an even greater weapon for Rebels’ offense
OXFORD, MS – Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze assured Evan Engram, the Rebels’ senior tight end, that he would be more involved in this season’s offense. Engram is doing his part to make sure that happens—including watching hours and hours of film on Florida State’s defense.
There were those who thought Engram would declare for the NFL Draft last season at the conclusion of his junior year. However, the Powder Springs, Georgia native decided to return to Ole Miss to help the Rebels earn a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.
Freeze told Engram it’s up to him to play a pivotal part in the offense.
Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram
Engram’s extra film study could add even more to an Ole Miss offense that shattered many school records in 2015. “I think it’s going to be huge for our offense, huge for my game as well, too,” he said. “I can really sit back and see what the defense is in. I feel like that’s added to my game a whole lot more.”
Engram has also spent a great deal of time in the film room with Rebels’ senior quarterback Chad Kelly and the rest of the tight ends, breaking down the Seminoles’ defense.
The chemistry between Kelly and Engram has progressed and could lead to an Ole Miss offense that outpaces even the 2015 version that led the Southeastern Conference in total yards (6,731).
“It’s definitely a lot better from putting the work in the spring,” Engram said about the chemistry with Kelly. “He had surgery in the spring, so spring didn’t last long for him. But the time we did have, it was really good and even in camp we were trying to click. So, it’s definitely a lot better than it was last year for sure.”
With the season opener on Monday coming against No. 4 Florida State, there couldn’t be a better time for Engram and Kelly to be firing on all cylinders.
“I think as an offense, as a whole, it’s important for that,” Engram said. “Just to kind of build that chemistry with each receiver and for him to know our tendencies, where we are going to be and how are we going to run certain routes. I think that’s huge for our entire offense.”
Engram is preparing to face a Seminoles’ defense that has at least eight defensive backs able to line up in multiple positions in the secondary. Sophomores Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis will play at cornerback for the Seminoles. Lewis will play at the star position in nickel formations since senior Marquez White has locked down one of the starting cornerback jobs.
Sophomore Derwin James will start at free safety, but could possibly see action as a nickel defensive back or edge rusher on the defensive line. Junior Trey Marshall and senior Nate Andrews are the two most experienced strong safeties for FSU and could split rep time with James at the safety position. Lewis, Marshall and freshman Levonta Taylor are listed at the Seminoles’ star position.
In all his film study, Engram said he noticed how the FSU group loves to play man-to-man defense. The Seminoles’ defense ranked ninth in the country in 2015, allowing only 17.5 points per game.
“When I first started watching film, I really hope they continue to play man like they do on film,” Engram said. “They do some zone stuff, but a lot of times they like to put their athletes on other team’s athletes and just battle. So, I hope they play us like this because we will be ready for it.”