Last season the offensive line was solid and managed to stay away from injury. But there was little depth. This year there are some who say the position is five to six players deep, and even offensive coordinator Dan Werner said there could be eight or nine players he feels comfortable calling on.
Swindall has a lot of experience, too, as a senior center that started all 13 games during the 2012 season and emerged as the starter halfway through the 2011 season. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said that experience is a key for the offensive line, and especially in this case of Swindall.
“Anytime you’re playing seniors up front who have been through the battles, that experience is something you can’t replicate,” said the second-year Rebel head coach. “Making sure we’re getting the right calls is important, particularly if there are young linemen in there with him, and there will be at times. I think it’s vital, and Evan’s a great leader, too.”
Swindall said August camp has gone well, in his opinion, mentioning those numbers along the offensive line.
“We’ve been working together. We’ve pretty much got a solid five or six that we use now,” said the LaFayette, Ga., product. “Team chemistry’s getting better among us. We’re doing pretty good making the calls together now.”
And the depth can only mean positive things for an offense that as the season moved on last year was clicking.
“It’s great. Having two sets of offensive linemen you can roll through and you won’t be as tired,” Swindall said. “I feel I’m in pretty good conditioning with this tempo offense that we run. But having two sets of lines like that, we’ll be even better.”
Swindall said moving into year two of the Freeze regime has its plusses. That’s especially so for the players here last season.
“I feel more comfortable with the calls,” the 6-foot-4, 301-pounder said. “And I’m more familiar with when we need to make certain calls on certain things. I feel we’ll be better this year because of the experience.
“There is carryover but even having some time off, it does still come back quicker. We’re running more of our offense now than we were this time last year. I think we’re executing pretty well. We just know more than we did last year.”
Swindall said the depth at center continues to progress. That depth currently is in the form of sophomore Ben Still and redshirt freshman Robert Conyers. He said he hopes he’s helping them become more seasoned veterans, even at a young age.
“They’re still learning. They’re still young,” he said. “Every time we watch film, I work with them. I think they’ll be ready if anything ever happens. They’ll help. It’s really the thinking process that’s the hardest part of it. Whenever they need to get Robert or Ben reps, they should be ready and OK whenever they go in. Offensive line-wise I’m really excited. I think with the recruiting class that’s come in and with Robert and Ben playing center on the inside like that, I think they’ll be really good after we’re gone.”
As for himself, the daily routine remains the same. Be the best he can be.
“Try to practice hard every day. I try to give 100 percent effort,” Swindall said. “I watch game film of myself, and I try to be real critical of it. My whole goal is to not miss a block, and to grade a 90. I haven’t done it yet, but I’d like to this year.
“I have my degree, and of course I’d love to play in the NFL or Canada or Europe. For now I’m just looking forward to this season at Ole Miss.”