A Q&A With OL Coach John Hevesy

Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy talks about his offensive linemen.

Depth-wise, who are your two-deep offensive tackles? And what are your thoughts about each one of them?
"I really don't look at it as ones and twos. I have four tackles competing for the two tackle spots, Blaine Clausell, Charles Siddoway, Damien Robinson and Justin Senior. Charles and Blaine started 13 games last year. They are the front-runners. Damien Robinson had a really good spring. Because of that, he put himself in a position to compete. Justin Senior had a good spring. But he's still a redshirt freshman, so he's got a ways to go."

How have Charles and Blaine improved?
"Charles' played in the league and he's matured. His knowledge is better, his techniques are better. He's dropped a little bit of weight to help his flexibility. Blaine has a lot of experience and has continued to mature."

How has Damien improved?
"He's gotten more mature and he's more confident. Like any (offensive lineman) in high school, he was bigger than everybody else. He could get away with a lot because he was bigger. But in college everything counts, your strength, your techniques, your fundamentals, your power, your mobility. All of them count. You can't just get away with being 6-foot-7, 330 pounds. That's why you see big kids, especially offensive linemen, who don't play early. You are an 18-year-old kid going against 22-year-old men who have been in the weight room 3 or 4 years. With the skill positions if you can run fast and catch the ball you have a chance to play. You don't get beat up every play for 70 plays a game like you do when you are an offensive lineman.

"I don't ever tell a young (offensive lineman) it's a bad thing to not play as a freshman. I tell them it's difficult to play as a freshman. As a sophomore you are expected to compete. Your third year you are expected to compete for a starting job."

The other tackle is Senior. What are your thoughts about him?
"He's got a lot of talent but he's doesn't have a lot of structured football between Hargrave and high school. Because of that, the game is slower for him. He's a very athletic 6-foot-5.5, 6-foot-6, 300 pound kid with long arms. He's got very natural body power. But for him it's just learning the game. Right now, he's the fourth tackle in the game. It's his second year. We just expect him to compete for playing time."

Who are your four guards?
"Gabe Jackson, Justin Malone, Ben Beckwith and Archie Muniz."

What are your thoughts about each one of those four guards, starting with Gabe Jackson?
"He's a talented kid. But as talented as he is, (what makes him as good as he is is) his fundamentals are almost perfect, his technique is perfect. His work ethic is great. He's also probably a little faster than some of them. Every year Gabe has progressed.

"He redshirted his freshman year. That year he had the luxury of being between Derek Sherrod and J.C. Brignone or Quentin Saulsberry. He didn't have to go out and do it himself. He had those three ahead of him."

Justin Malone was thrown in the fire last year as a freshman.
"He was and he wasn't. I expect them to compete to play their redshirt freshman year. He had the luxury where he only played about half the plays. Tobias Smith played the others. I had Tobias play in the LSU and Alabama games. I had Justin play in other games such as Kentucky and other places. With young kids, when they fail it's hard to get them back. That's why I always try to make it where they are going to have success."

Ben Beckwith is the next guard.
"He is an athletic kid and he is very versatile. He's the third guard and the third center. Either he or Dylan Holley could go in at center."

Your fourth guard is Archie Muniz.
"He could go from guard to tackle. He can play either one of them. Is he the fourth guard or the fourth tackle? We'll figure out which one during camp."

Your centers are Dillon Day and Dylan Holley.
"Dillon got thrown in the fire two years ago, just like Blaine (Clausell) did. He got thrown to the fire more than anybody else. I think it was the third snap of the LSU game when Tobias got hurt and he had to go play. (Dillon) was then the starting center."

How has Dillon improved?
"His leadership. He's a very intelligent football player. He understands, probably more than anyone, the concepts, the schemes that we are doing better than anyone. And he helps everybody around him. He has everybody on the right page. That's where he gotten better."

Dylan Holley is your backup center. How has he improved?
"He's good physically. It's the mental strain that is tough on him. As a center you are in charge of everybody and you can't be hesitate. I think he has gotten better with that during the off-season."

You have a few other players, some young guys who were redshirted last year. What are your thoughts about them?
"Cole Carter (a tackle) and Devon Desper (a center) are the two freshmen who redshirted last year. Both got better in the spring but both have to get a lot of reps this fall camp. The second year, like I said, you should be competing for possible playing time. The luxury we have right now is that they don't need to play. But they still need to absorb as much as they possibly can."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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