Coaches puzzling over ‘best five’ for OL

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – John Hevesy has a bit of a puzzle on his hands, and he’s got until Saturday to figure it out.
Mississippi State’s offensive line coach is missing a key piece in right guard Tobias Smith, who’s out for the year with a knee injury suffered in Thursday’s loss to LSU. Hevesy is getting back another piece, though, in left tackle James Carmon.
So the questions are: What will the starting offensive line look like, and what kind of role will Carmon have when the Bulldogs host Louisiana Tech on Saturday?
When Smith went down, center Quentin Saulsberry moved over to right guard while redshirt freshman Dillon Day came in at center, just as he had the previous game at Auburn when Saulsberry got banged up. However, redshirt freshman Damien Robinson has been working as the No. 2 right guard, so the lineup is hardly settled.
“We’re going to put the best five on the field,” Hevesy said Monday.
He added that practices this week will largely determine how it all shakes out, but he did say that as of right now, Blaine Clausell remains the starter at left tackle. He and Carmon battled it out all through the offseason, with Carmon winning the job.
Then Carmon got hurt against Auburn and didn’t even practice last week.
“I’m going to see how James is,” Hevesy said. “Right now, he came in (Monday), he was walking around without any crap on him or any of that stuff. I feel good that now I’m back to seven (linemen), if he’s going to play now.”
Whatever the combination up front, Saulsberry feels the Bulldogs will be OK. The senior, who’s started at four different positions throughout his college career, pointed to all the offseason work they did together.
“Everybody’s been doing the same training, we’ve been with each other during the summer, so everybody knows the same thing,” Saulsberry said. “Everybody knows what they have to do and how they have to do it, so to me it wouldn’t be a problem of putting somebody out there.”
And then he echoed a mantra Hevesy constantly preaches to his troops.
“You always want your best five, and we always tell the guys, be ready, because you’re one (untied) shoelace away from being in the game.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com