Spring practice is in the books for Mississippi State football.
There were not as many questions concerning the Bulldogs as there may have been in years past, with 18 starters returning from last year’s team that went 7-6 and won the Liberty Bowl.
The two most pressing quandaries I had about MSU heading into spring practice still remain. I do not know who will replace Gabe Jackson and Charles Siddoway on the offensive line nor do I see a clear solution to the Bulldogs’ placekicking problem.
Justin Malone and Jocquell Johnson did not participate in any team drills this spring so it is hard to pinpoint what their roles will be on the offensive line. Jamaal Clayborn and Ben Beckwith took most of the reps as first team guards while Damien Robinson received most of the work at right tackle.
Will State stick with that setup, or will Malone and Johnson factor in that mix this fall?
It would be hard for the field goal kicking to go anywhere but up after dreadfully inconsistent 2013. The Bulldogs were just 10 of 21 on field goal tries last season, with Devon Bell making 6 of 14, Evan Sobiesk going 3 of 6 and the departed Taylor Earhart making his only attempt.
Bell was removed from the equation entirely this spring and will focus strictly on punting and kickoffs leaving the team with only walk-on options. Sobiesk battled Westin Graves for the job but the duo combined to go just 6 of 14 in three scrimmages inside Davis Wade Stadium.
That should be a major cause for concern for Mississippi State fans.
The good news is the Bulldogs were able to escape the spring without any major injuries. Senior defensive tackles Kaleb Eulls and P.J. Jones both missed the spring with foot injuries which created an opportunity for some of the younger defensive tackles to gain quality reps.
This spring was also huge for Nick James. After redshirting his true sophomore year last fall, James has trimmed down and played with a tremendous motor in every spring practice I saw. I expect him to be a huge contributor for MSU’s defensive line in 2014. If there was a most improved trophy for spring, I’d have to hand it over to him.
Another player who caught my eye is redshirt freshman Gabe Myles. The former Starkville High School quarterback spent last season practicing in the secondary but made the move to slot receiver this spring and has several spectacular plays. Jameon Lewis will still get most of the reps there in the fall but Myles proved to be a valuable understudy and has a bright future ahead.
Fans have a lot to be excited for in 2014 as the Bulldogs open a newly renovated stadium and attempt to make their fifth consecutive bowl appearance…and I haven’t even mentioned Dak Prescott’s name until now.
Logan Lowery (logan.lowery@ journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideMSUSports.com