By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – James Carmon got tired of watching the Mississippi State offense sputter.
Finally, he turned to a coach and said, “I’m ready, man. I can’t keep watching. I’m a senior, I’ve got to go and play.”
So, in the second half, Carmon entered at left tackle, and he was a big reason Mississippi State’s offense started clicking in a 21-3 win over UAB on Saturday.
Carmon has been dealing with a knee injury – which cost him two games earlier this season – and a position change. He started at right guard the week before at Georgia, but he wasn’t in the starting lineup Saturday.
Coaches, however, told him to be ready in case he was needed. With redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell struggling in the first half, it was an easy call to go to Carmon, who began the season at left tackle before injuries to him and others wreaked havoc with the offensive line.
“Really I didn’t have a good week of practice. I didn’t really practice a lot, neither, but coaches were just telling me to be ready just in case, just in case,” Carmon said. “That time came, he said you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. So I went in for my team, did what I had to do.”
Carmon started the second half, the same time that Tyler Russell took over at quarterback.
After MSU’s first drive died at UAB’s 36-yard line, things took off with three consecutive touchdown drives, as the Bulldogs piled up 237 yards during the stretch.
Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins found grooves running the ball, and Russell had plenty of time to pick apart the Blazers’ pass defense. Russell even ran the option a few times, gaining 8 yards on one play around Carmon’s end.
“Just knowing I do have him out there helps out a lot,” Russell said. “But you try not to think about it. You know they’re going to protect you, so you just go out there and play football.”
There was an immediate comfort level for Carmon at left tackle, and he said the entire offensive line felt that way.
“Oh, it definitely was more chemistry, way more chemistry,” he said. “For the last couple weeks, we’ve been struggling. Since after LSU we’ve just been struggling, but we definitely did feel comfortable after the second half, we came out and kept on scoring.”