August 31, 2012

Offensive line preview

When John Hevesy arrived at Mississippi State from Florida along with Dan Mullen four years ago there wasn't much to work with from a numbers standpoint on the offensive line.

Through four recruiting classes Hevesy has slowly built his own depth at the position and is poised to unleash his newest crop of linemen on Saturday.

But just because the numbers are there does not always guarantee success. It is own Hevesy constructed this group that has made the difference.

"You have to have numbers and have them pushed," Hevesy said. "If you have 75 of them and they aren't getting pushed then it's not going to matter. Those six through 10 have to be able to push one through five. If they aren't pushing you're going to have problems. It creates competition to get better."

The Bulldogs have four linemen back who started three games or more last season. However two of those were redshirt freshmen a year ago and another, Tobias Smith was lost for the season with a knee injury on the first possession of the third game.

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 305-pounder, missed all of spring practice and was limited during fall camp but is expected to start in the opener against Jackson State. The right guard has battled injuries throughout his four previous years in Starkville but has helped mentor the younger linemen even while sidelined.

"Tobias on the field and even off the field is a great thing to have," Hevesy said. "I'd love to have him on the field every day and every play. He's done a lot of things we've asked him to do. He's done some one-on-one stuff. With that injury that he had, we listen to the doctors and Justin (Gremillion) not to push him into anything that's going to set him back. We're going step by step getting him ready to go."

Behind Smith will be 6-foot-7, 315-pound redshirt freshman Justin Malone.

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