By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
More: Bulldogs prepare to battle Auburn
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STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s young offensive linemen can’t afford to stay in silent mode.
During Saturday’s 56-9 win over Jackson State, several linemen got into the game, and line coach John Hevesy said their biggest trouble was communication.
Redshirt freshman guard Justin Malone and sophomore tackle Damien Robinson, both backups, spent some time together on the right side of the line Saturday. But they were not on the same page.
“You put two of them together, someone’s got to speak now,” Hevesy said. “That’s exactly what I said at halftime, I said the one communication with the protection was one (player) went out, one went in, and the first thing I said was, ‘Who said what?’ They both looked at me, and they looked at each other, and they hadn’t said anything.”
Hevesy said that was something he would stress at Monday’s practice.
Both Malone and Robinson have a good chance to get on the field this weekend in the SEC opener versus Auburn, and that defense will require MSU’s linemen to make adjustments and to communicate constantly.
“When you two are in there, open your mouth, someone’s got to say something,” Hevesy said. “Now whether you disagree, great, figure it out and agree on it. It may be the wrong thing, but just agree on it, so at least you’re doing things together.”
Malone was playing for starter Tobias Smith, who stayed on the sidelines after the first series. He’s coming off an ACL injury suffered early last season.
Hevesy feels Smith will be ready for Auburn.
Kicker battle continues
MSU used three kickers on Saturday. Freshman Devon Bell handled the first four point-after kicks and missed a 42-yard field goal; Charlie Grandfield hit the last four extra points; and Brian Egan had two touchbacks on five kickoffs.
It’s still a wide-open battle for that job, although Bell got the start Saturday and was the one Mullen trotted out for the field goal.
“The juice got to him a little bit. He was fired up right there, over-strided on the kick,” Mullen said. “Instead of playing with emotion, he played on emotion and let that carry him and get his whole body out of position for the kick with his technique. I thought he played really well.”
Tight end Malcolm Johnson will be out again this week with a pectoral injury, and reserve offensive lineman Templeton Hardy (ankle) is probable.
Mullen has not yet said whether the three players suspended for the Jackson State game would return this weekend. P.J. Jones, Jamerson Love and Ricco Sanders are all on indefinite suspension for violations of team rules, and their respective statuses for the Auburn game will be announced Saturday morning.