STARKVILLE – Mississippi State might finally have the deep offensive line rotation John Hevesy has been wanting.
With MSU now a week into preseason camp, Hevesy is seeing a deep group come together, and that depth is borne of extensive experience. The five projected starters have a combined 95 career starts, and the backups have seen action, too.
“The ones (first-string) are playing, they’re coming together as a group,” Hevesy, the fifth-year offensive line coach, said Wednesday.
“All the twos are really picking a lot of things up, which is good, to have 10 guys and even 11 guys to play.”
How deep the rotation goes will be determined later in camp, but it looks to be the deepest MSU has had since head coach Dan Mullen arrived.
Hevesy certainly has plenty of options. Ben Beckwith is a player who can fill in at multiple positions if needed, while Ar- chie Mun- iz and Justin Senior also figure into the mix as backups.
The only real position battle taking place is at right tackle, where junior Damien Robinson is trying to supplant senior Charles Siddoway, who started all 13 games there last season.
Robinson, who played in 12 games last fall, has been a little banged up this preseason, but he’s expected to push Siddoway.
“It’s going to be a good one to watch,” right guard Justin Malone said, “because Siddoway’s trying to stay right there for his senior year, and Damien’s trying to get up there to show what he can do.”
With so much returning experience, there’s a natural expectation that the offensive line will be better this year. Left tackle Blaine Clausell said one area MSU hopes to improve on is pass blocking – quarterback Tyler Russell took quite a few hits last season.
“I hate seeing the quarterback get hit like that, so we’ve all got to improve on giving him more time so he doesn’t get any more hits,” Clausell said.
All the offensive linemen who spoke Wednesday emphasized the oneness of this group, which aids the depth issue, and it’s something they see as a big advantage for their group and for the team as a whole.
Preseason camp is never easy – especially under the hot sun at the South Farm practice fields – but as the Bulldogs toil on, there’s a sense among the linemen that however the rotation works out, however deep it goes, it’ll be effective.
“We’re coming in with another year in the system, and you just have a big cohesiveness of the whole offensive line,” Clausell said. “Everybody’s trusting they can do their job.”