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OC Rich Rodriguez excited to work with youthful Ole Miss offense

OC Rich Rodriguez excited to work with youthful Ole Miss offense

OXFORD, Miss. — There is definitely a youth movement in Oxford, and new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez sounds eager to coach the multitude of freshmen he will have on the Ole Miss offense this fall.

Just how steep of a learning curve the unit has will likely come down to how quickly the players can come together during fall camp, ahead of the Rebels’ season opener on August 31 at Memphis. But from talking to the coaches and players at Thursday’s Media Day, it’s obvious the enthusiasm and energy are at high levels. 

RB Scottie Phillips is a senior to whom the offense will look for leadership. (Photo credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)

Heading into fall camp, the Rebels have just three returning starters. Although there are seven upperclassmen listed in starting roles on the offense on the pre-fall, two-deep roster, only three of those have the experience to be considered veterans: senior right tackle Alex Givens, senior running back Scottie Phillips, and junior wide receiver Braylon Sanders.

However, the case can easily be made that although they are just sophomores, Ben Brown at right guard and Elijah Moore in the slot are both very experienced as a result of their performances last season.

Brown finished 2018 with 12 starts at right guard and did not allow a single sack on 446 pass blocks, while Moore played in 12 games as a true freshman, recording 36 catches for 398 yards and two TDs.

Regardless, there is no doubt this is a very young team on offense without, as of yet, a lot of proven commodities. Coach Rodriguez and the Rebels will have some big shoes to fill with the loss of eight starters, including All-America performers A.J. Brown and Greg Little.

Coach Rod makes it clear freshmen are going to have to play a big role this season. “I think we’ve got a pretty good group coming in, and frankly, we’re going to have to have,” he said. 

There’s probably going to be upwards of ten to twelve of them (freshmen) playing on offense which is a little bit scary, but it’s also going to be kind of fun.

Offensive Coordinator Rich Rodriguez 

Rodriguez is looking forward to working with the players from spring as well as the newcomers. “We have a lot of questions, I know, and that’s part of what is going to make this camp so exciting and interesting — because there are going to be a lot of new faces our fans are going to get a chance to see this fall.”

Offensive lineman Nick Broeker

Freshman OL Nick Broeker will be looked to for depth on the O line.

One of the true freshmen who will need to be ready to make an impact early on is offensive lineman Nick Broeker, especially now that starting right guard Alex Givens is limited in fall camp due to a lower back surgery in July. 

Broeker knew coming in he might be asked to play a major role on this team, and by all accounts he sounds ready for the challenge. “I feel like I am pretty ready,” said Broeker at Media Day. 

We have a great staff here and a great group of older guys that have really helped me. Coach Bicknell does a great job.

OL Nick Broeker

Broeker has worked hard this offseason to add the extra weight he’ll need to compete in the SEC at offensive tackle. He’s up to 305 pounds on his 6’6” frame, and that size combined with his excellent athleticism and footwork, makes him a player we would not be surprised to see on the SEC All-Freshman team at the conclusion of the season. 

Preparing for Memphis game

Offensive Coordinator Rich Rodriguez visits with The Rebel Walk’s Derrell Hart at OM Media Day.

With so many new faces on offense, getting off to a good start in the season opener against Memphis will be important for this young group. What will preparations in fall camp look like as the unit gets ready for August 31?

“The first game is always really important,” Rodriguez said.

We basically have four weeks to get ready, but we’ll spend probably the first two weeks of camp concentrating on us. And then two weeks before the Memphis game we’ll kind of gear our philosophy toward that ballgame.

OC Rich Rodriguez

We had a chance to ask Coach Rod about using more tight end sets this season than the Rebels have in the past, as well as his thoughts on the offensive scheme.  “We’ve kind of evolved over the years,” he began.

We used to be mostly just four wideouts, but now we’re more 11 personnel — three wideouts and a tight end. We’ll have two backs on occasion. We’re a little bit more multiple, formation-wise, than we’ve been in the past.

OC Rich Rodriguez

Although the Rebels are young and inexperienced on the offensive side of the ball, their coaching staff is looking forward to doing everything they can to prepare this team to succeed on the football field. Yesterday at Media Day, there was a lot of energy and excitement in the building. You can expect to see this team giving max effort on every single snap this fall. From talking to players and coaches, it is clear to see this team has turned the page and is looking forward to writing its own chapter in Ole Miss football history.

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

Derrell Hart

Derrell has covered Ole Miss athletics in the past for Rebels247 at 247Sports. He attended Delta State University where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology. He is currently pursuing his Pharm.D. at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with an expected graduation of May, 2020.

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