MSU OC Les Koenning Talks O-Line

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning sat down with Gene's Page and talked about each of the positions on the offensive side of the ball. Today, in part-4, he talks about the offensive line.

Offensive Line

What are your thoughts about the offensive line? How about starting with the center position.
"When we first came to Mississippi State we were very fortunate to have good offensive linemen. Upfront, we have played with Quentin Saulsberry for three years. He has played guard and stepped in at center for us. You have to feel good about Quentin and what he can do at the center or guard positions for you. While he's a starter for us, it still creates a little depth for us.

"The development of Dillon Day will be very critical for us. There is no doubt that he has the talent to play at this level but he's just a (redshirt) freshman. When we first went out for spring training you could have more easily counted the number of snaps he completed than the ones that were snapped over the quarterbacks heads. He really struggled snapping the ball. But he really got a lot better at the end of the spring, although he was still inconsistent. That is a concern of mine when he gets into a game. I tell him when you snap it you always have to start good. You can't start bad. But he's got the talent and can play the position. It's just the fundamental part of it that's hurting him."

Do you feel ok with the center position?
"If we endure an injury there, it could be a concern. Center is not a comfortable position for us right now at all (depth-wise). We walked into a really good situation when we got here because we had J.C. Brignone. Now, we just have to continue to develop the young kids."

What are your thoughts about the two guard positions?
"Tobias Smith has played for us for the years we have been here. He is a good SEC football player. The only concern I have about Tobias is his health. He has yet to play a full season for us. But he is a really good football player. I feel very comfortable with him, though.

"I also feel very comfortable with Gabe Jackson. He came in last year and did an outstanding job for us. He's now got a lot of experience with starts in the SEC.

"Both Tobias and Gabe have played so there won't be many things they haven't seen before. Then, you can have Quentin Saulsberry, who can be a swing guy if somebody gets hurt. We are ok with the guard positions. We just have to create a little more depth at the positions."

Depth at the guard position is where Templeton Hardy and Damien Robinson come in.
"In my opinion, Templeton was the most pleasant surprise in the spring. I have been really impressed with him this last spring. He has decided that he is going to play some football for us. He can create some depth for us. He's been in our program for four years, so he's another experienced player that we feel comfortable putting on the field.

"Damien is very talented. When you talk about talent, he's a really talented player. Plus, he's so massive the defensive tackles we play against are great matchups for him. You have to have big powerful guys at guard that can really come off the ball. He just needs to continue progressing. The light hasn't come on for him yet, like it has with Templeton. When it does, he can be a really, really, really, good football player in my opinion. He's got the physical talent. He just has to get the techniques and fundamentals down to play offensive line."

What are your thoughts about the right and left tackle positions?
"Derek Sherrod has been a mainstay for us our entire time we have been here. There was a reason why he was drafted in the first round. Now, he's gone. And that's a concern. James Carmon and Blaine Clausell have taken over his position.

"Blaine was an early entry freshman from Baker High School in Mobile, Alabama. And he has progressed, but he hasn't progressed to the point where he has won the position. It's still a competition between him and James Carmon. Once we get that solidified, I think that will be very beneficial for us offensively.

"James Carmon was a highly, highly recruited defensive tackle from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. We moved him to left tackle. He's got talent. He's as talented as you can be. He's 6-6, 320 to 330. Coming out of high school he was recruited very highly by a lot of major schools to play offensive line. He could go back and play defensive tackle for us right now but he we need him at left tackle."

Switching to the other side of the ball, you have a talented and very experienced right tackle, Addison Lawrence.
"Yeah, he's played a lot of snaps for us and has done a nice job for us. I've been very pleased with Addison. He's been here a long time and done a really nice job for us.

"Behind him, we have Archie Muniz. He's very, very talented and can really, really run. But, again, he's a young freshman who needs to continue to progress. It's really a neat situation for Archie. He's behind Addison, who is a senior. He's a redshirt freshman who has had one year in our program and he'll get another year this season to learn."

Coming Thursday Part-5 - Running Backs/Fullbacks and Kickers..

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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