OXFORD • There is good news for Ole Miss fans who would like to see a rush order placed on a competitive offense as SEC play arrives this week.
Rebels coach Matt Luke says his team is up to the task.
While defense was noticeably improved in a season-opening 15-10 loss at Memphis offense was a struggle.
The Rebels rushed for 80 yards and passed for 93 on a slim 52 total plays.
“We can get better on that side of the ball in a hurry,” Luke said Monday.
Part of the plan for rapid improvement includes getting freshman offensive tackle Nick Broeker in the game this week.
Ole Miss (0-1) begins conference play Saturday night at 6:30 in its home opener against Arkansas.
Offensive line play was under the microscope as Ole Miss went three-and-out on its first three offensive possessions and was held to minus-1 rushing yard in the first half against Memphis.
Things improved in the second half. The Rebels ran well with some bigger personnel groupings but didn’t score until 3 minutes, 11 seconds remained in the third quarter. In addition, a blocking miscommunication led to a safety, the final Memphis points, when the Rebels were backed up to their 1 with 6:32 left.
Broeker may not be the only freshman lineman to play against the Razorbacks, but he was the only one Luke named Monday.
Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez said eight is the number he’d like to reach in an offensive line rotation. Broeker was ahead of the other offensive line freshmen in camp, but Jeremy James was often mentioned as in position to get some early playing time.
Ole Miss played only six linemen in line-of-scrimmage plays against Memphis. Senior right tackle Alex Givens, who missed all of camp with a back injury, started, and junior Bryce Mathews was the reserve.
Broeker and redshirt freshman Jalen Cunningham played on special teams.
“We need to get better, and it doesn’t all fall on the offensive line. You have to be on time, there are things … it all works together,” Luke said, “but there are things we can do better, and I think playing more guys is one of those things.”