There's been more attention on the position battles along the offensive line this week, but there has been movement on the defensive front too.
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Carlton Martin has been getting some first-team reps, and he was singled out by defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix following Wednesday's practice.
“Right now we are trying to find our best 11 on the field. We feel like he may be a guy that gives us a chance. Justin Smith has rotated in with the ones as well coming off an injury. We are just trying to find the guys that are the healthiest and give us a chance to play the most physical up front and give us a chance to play with the proper pad level.”
Martin and DT Bryon Bennett were considered big gets from Madison Central two years ago. Now they're redshirt freshmen.
Bennett has acclimated more quickly. Both have appeared in all five games, but Bennett has drawn a couple of starts and has recorded six tackles, two behind the line, four of them unassisted. Martin has posted two assists.
At this stage of their careers, both are considerably smaller than the defensive linemen they're helping to replace. That could change, but it makes it harder to play physical right now.
Nix said the open date helped the Rebels get a little stronger going into the Alabama game, particularly end Kentrell Lockett.
“He is getting healthier. You know all our kids are getting a little bit better health-wise. The open week really helped, and we’ll find out how much it helped when we go out there and play Saturday, but from a mental aspect it helped the kids some and it looks like they have a little bit more bounce in their step.”