Houston Nutt has had only one offensive line coach in his 18 seasons as a head coach, and that post has remained the same at Ole Miss. Mike Markuson, who is considered one of the nation's top offensive line coaches, also serves as the Rebels' running game coordinator.
Markuson's management of the running game has produced a rushing offense unparalleled in the SEC, including a seven-year stretch of ranking top-three in the league. After boasting the league's top ground game in four of his last five seasons at Arkansas, Markuson has helped the Ole Miss rushing attack rise from one of the SEC's worst to one of the best.
In 2008, the Rebels recorded their most rushing yards since 1990 and ranked second in the conference after ranking 11th just one year prior. The potent rushing production from year one (186.5 ypg, 21 TDs) continued in year two (183.6 ypg, 22 TDs), and in 2010, the Rebels raised their rushing average another 20 yards to a 207.6 clip and 28 TDs. Both of those totals ranked third in the SEC.
Also serving as the co-offensive coordinator, Markuson's most impressive coaching job might have come in 2010. With seven underclassmen earning starts on the offensive line and using six different starting lineups, Ole Miss topped the SEC in fewest sacks allowed and notched eight 100-yard rushing games between four different runners.
Markuson's line ranked second in the SEC (14th in the nation) in fewest sacks allowed in 2009 (17) and was fourth in the conference in 2008 (20), after Ole Miss finished ninth the previous year.
Since his arrival in Oxford, Markuson has tutored a pair of first-team All-Americans in tackle Michael Oher in 2008 and guard John Jerry in 2009. Oher became the fifth Rebel to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, as the SEC's best blocker, and he was taken with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Jerry was taken in the 2010 NFL Draft third round by the Miami Dolphins.
In Markuson's offense in 2010, Brandon Bolden ranked No. 5 in the SEC in rushing (81.3 ypg) and seventh in all-purpose yards (108.8 ypg). In addition, Jeremiah Masoli broke the Ole Miss school record for rushing yards by a quarterback and finished third in rushing among SEC QBs (45.3 ypg).
Dexter McCluster had a record-breaking year running behind Markuson's line in 2009, posting the second-highest rushing total in school history with 1,169 yards and earning first team All-America honors. It marks the ninth time a Markuson line has produced a 1,000-yard rusher. McCluster ranked fifth in rushing in the SEC (89.9 ypg) and sixth in all-purpose yards (132.1 ypg). He also set a pair of school records with 282 yards rushing and 324 all-purpose yards against Tennessee.
In Markuson's decade at Arkansas, no other Southeastern Conference team was more effective at running the ball than the Razorbacks. In 2003, Markuson added the duty of running game coordinator, and the Hogs topped the SEC in rushing in four of the five campaigns under his watch.
The 2007 season saw the Razorbacks lead the SEC and end the season fourth in the nation in rushing offense with 286.54 yards per game. Additionally, Arkansas ranked second in total offense (450.0) and third in scoring offense (37.31) in the SEC while sitting at No. 17 and No. 13, respectively, nationally in each category.
Under Markuson's tutelage, center Jonathan Luigs captured the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the outstanding center in college football, and was named a first team All-American by The Sporting News and Rivals.com. Luigs also earned a share (Alabama's Andre Smith) of the Jacobs Trophy, given annually to the league's top blocker becoming the first Razorback since Shawn Andrews to win that award.
Luigs helped pave the way for 37 100-yard rushing games in 36 career games, including a school-record 17 100-yard performances in 13 games as a senior. Luigs and guard Robert Felton were named to the Coaches All-SEC first team while tackle Nate Garner and guard Mitch Petrus earned second-team honors. Felton also earned second-team All-America honors from Rivals.com.
Also under Markuson's watch, Darren McFadden (1,830) and Felix Jones (1,162) each rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second-straight year, the 12th and 13th such seasons in school history. Seven of those 1,000-yard efforts came in six years with Nutt as head coach and Markuson in charge of the line.
During the 2007 season, the McFadden-Jones duo earned 100 yards or more in the same game six times. McFadden was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and earned consensus first-team All-America honors, several national player of the year accolades and a second-consecutive Doak Walker Award. He also finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Not only did Markuson's offensive line create lanes for the Razorback running game, it also kept rushers away from the Hog quarterbacks in 2007. The Hogs finished the season fifth nationally allowing only 13 sacks, which equated to just one sack per game for Razorback opponents.
The 2006 season was another banner year for Markuson's unit. Arkansas led the SEC, ranked fourth nationally in rushing offense (228.5), 29th in total offense (378.0) and 31st in scoring offense (28.86). Markuson's line ranked second in the nation in fewest sacks allowed (.64) and opened the gates for 1,000-yard seasons by McFadden and Jones.
Arkansas featured three first-team All-SEC performers from Markuson's offensive line in Luigs, Tony Ugoh and Zac Tubbs, while Stephen Parker was named second-team all-conference. The 42nd pick in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft, Ugoh was distinguished as a second-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com, and Luigs was an Associated Press third-team All-American and a finalist for the Rimington Trophy.
Markuson helped the Razorbacks also top the SEC in rushing in 2005, 2003 and 2002, while the 2004 squad finished second despite the loss of all six starters. The 2003 Arkansas rushing attack ranked fifth nationally, and Andrews was an All-American tackle and an Outland and Lombardi Trophy finalist.
With nearly three decades of collegiate coaching experience, including four years as an offensive coordinator, Markuson began his coaching relationship with Nutt at Oklahoma State where he was a graduate assistant in 1987 and 1988 while Nutt was the receivers coach. The two were reunited in 1993 when Nutt was named head coach at Murray State and brought Markuson in to serve as his offensive line coach. They've been together since, including the 1997 season at Boise State where Markuson served as Nutt's offensive coordinator.
A native of Farmington, Minn., Markuson began his coaching career at Farmington High School - his prep alma mater - as the school's defensive line coach in 1983. He began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 with a two-year stint as the defensive line coach at South Dakota State, where he earned his master's in physical education in 1986.
After spending the 1986 season as the defensive line coach at his collegiate alma mater - Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. - Markuson began his two-year graduate assistantship at Oklahoma State. While in Stillwater, he helped the Cowboys to a 35-33 win over West Virginia in the 1987 Sun Bowl and a 62-14 win over Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl behind five touchdowns and 222 rushing yards by Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders.
In 1989, Markuson served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame under former Arkansas head coach Lou Holtz. That Fighting Irish team posted a 12-1 record and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press rankings after toppling Colorado in the Orange Bowl.
Markuson landed his first full-time collegiate coaching position in 1990 when he was named the offensive line coach at Austin Peay. He then served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Alabama A&M during the 1991 and 1992 seasons.
Markuson was a three-year football letterman at Farmington High School where he served as team co-captain and earned all-conference honors as a senior. He went on to Hamline where he was a four-year starter at defensive tackle and a two-time honorable mention All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection for the Pipers. He was also team co-captain as a senior.
Born June 15, 1961, Markuson is married to the former Dottie Bryant. The couple has a daughter, Joy Noel, and a son, Elliot Bryan.
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