By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – With Mississippi State’s offensive line coming off its worst performance of the season, more changes are imminent.
Injuries have already forced head coach Dan Mullen to retool the front five, and he’s going to move some more people around as the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2 SEC) prepare for Saturday’s trip to Georgia (2-2, 1-1).
One possible switch: Left tackle James Carmon to right guard.
Quentin Saulsberry has been holding down the right guard spot since Tobias Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 15 against LSU. Carmon, a senior, has missed the last two games after suffering a knee injury but should be available this week.
While Carmon is an experienced player, he played defense last year and hasn’t yet become completely comfortable on offense.
“Carmon can swing as an older player,” Mullen said at Monday’s press conference. “Obviously Quentin Saulsberry can go everywhere across the line as we move around. Gabe Jackson can move around a little bit. You try to not move around the freshmen too much.”
MSU had trouble finding rushing yards between the tackles in Saturday’s 26-20 overtime win against Louisiana Tech, and Mullen said it was “probably the worst performance” by the line this season.
“This is the first week none of them graded a champion,” he said. “They were all right near the edge, but it’s the first week none of them graded out (champion). As a whole, that was our worst game.”
If Carmon does move, then redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell will remain the starter at left tackle. It would also allow Saulsberry to move back to center, where redshirt freshman Dillon Day started last week.
“We have to have everybody ready everywhere,” Mullen said. “You look, when you start taking numbers away, your depth chart diminishes. …
“You’re down your starting guard, your backup center, and the numbers start getting thinner and thinner as you go with injuries.”
It’s not an ideal situation, obviously, but MSU is trying to make do.
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning cited the experience being gained by Clausell and Day as a good thing in the long run, but …
“Do we want them to have that experience? No, we wish we had Tobias and those other things,” Koenning said, “but that’s part of playing in the SEC.”