Coach John Hevesy Q&A -- August 19

Coach John Hevesy stresses to his players being able to adapt on the fly. Now the Bulldog offensive line has to do some adapting as a group, with the loss of tackle Damian Robinson. But the line boss is confident Mississippi State has the players to meet this 2014 challenge.

How is the right tackle rotation setting up now? “Good. Justin Senior’s had a great camp, Justin Malone is another one that has worked a lot at right tackle throughout the summer. Just going in with that spot being open initially was to get everyone from Rufus (Warren) to Justin Senior to Justin Malone. You know Blaine (Clausell) has been at left, but to get all those guys ready to be really the first right tackle, then the second, third, fourth and develop them all that way.”

Moving Rufus Warren to tackle in spring, and now Senior gaining all the weight, that is going to pay off now? “Yeah. That’s part of it. Like anything, it’s an opportunity for anybody to get a shot. For Rufus it’s (going from) playing five or six snaps a game to play 70, 65 snaps a game. He’s been in the program a long time so he knows what is expected of him. And I think he’s done a great job, he’s had a really good camp and now he’s just got to keep finalizing all the details to being an offensive lineman.”

You have a development plan year-by-year, are Senior and Cole Carter coming into their own? “Yeah, again like anything it is part of from the high school to where the true freshmen are now, is still learning. We talk about what to do, how to do it, why you’re doing it. I think the first thing is learning what and the progression of what they do, some will pick it up faster. You look at Dillon (Day) and Blaine who played earlier, it’s they learned the what and the how quicker and they started learning the why on the run. They had to get thrown in the fire early so they had to learn faster. It helped them later on, but to me there’s still a progression of kids learning. Put them on the field when they’re ready to go.”

”And there’s a level of expecting to play in that first five. I say to them all the time, that front row of my meeting room is the first five that you’re fighting. Quentin Saulsberry came back the other day and he sat there, your goal in sitting in this room is to get in that front row. To me, you better know what to do, how to do it, and why to do it.”

Where has Jocquell Johnson come from the last two weeks? “He’s still learning. The one thing is, the minimal amount of reps he had in spring, I shouldn’t say set him back. To me he just missed those 15 days of practice that would have really helped him. So he’s progressing along, I just talked to him now, he’s progressing along.”

”But still from junior college it’s not much different from high school, it’s still learning. He’s got the what, he’s learning the how every day and the why is still going to be a bit away. But like I just told him, every one of my kids whether you’re in that first two-deep is every day you’re evaluated. Every day you’re on scout team you’re evaluated. If something happens again like Damien, guess what? Everybody is one play away from being in the game.”

”So to me it’s still the development every day. Is he ready to play right now, no. Will he be next week, possibly. Two weeks from now? It might be like Jamaal Clayborn last year, it became week-six, week-seven that I needed him and to me it is development for him was fast in those six weeks. But everyone has got to push that envelope, to be in that lineup, to get in that two-deep.”

Before this Justin Malone was being looked at for tackle, what is the move from guard to tackle? “Well it was the same thing. You lose a left guard and a right tackle last year, no one really had depth at getting the starts. Whether it was Justin Senior’s one start against Bowling Green, Justin Malone had the one start at guard; Damien really hadn’t had a start, Cole hasn’t started, there was Rufus moves over in spring. So there was no one to sit there and say hey, there’s the guy in line that had four or five starts, move! Justin is a guy that has developed, he’s an intelligent kid, learned all the things. To me he is the first one because he has the ability to be out there, the size to be out there. Again I just try to set myself up that here are four or five guys that could possibly take that position to get the best five on the field.”

Do Clayborn and Ben Beckwith give you that flexibility to move Malone? “Great. That’s the one luxury you have. Even Devon Desper has had a great camp. So the depth built up in there, now I have the luxury to move other guys around and say hey now let’s get depth everywhere we need it. To me really Justin Malone, Ben, Devon, and whoever at guard should give the ability to have guys at tackles. And they have a lot of reps too between Justin, Cole, Blaine, Rufus, and now Justin Malone getting reps you’re building depth throughout the line to find the best five, and six-seven-eight-nine from that point.”

Do you like what you’ve seen from Jake Thomas at guard? “Yeah, he’s had a good camp. It’s still a progression going along and it’s still only in his second year. So not to hold him to it, I mean they are accountable, responsible for; but he’s got to keep working and paying attention to all the little things that are involved.”

How has Malone responded after missing all last year and spring? “Great. Great, I mean the one thing is he had a great summer in the weightroom and had a great summer conditioning. And I think the best thing is he came into camp with a great attitude. He had a great camp, to me you saw the transitioning from last camp where he was learning to get into it, to he knew he was expected to know it. There’s no more learning curve for him, you’re expected to be that guy. And other guys are fighting to get your job, so keeping it. And he had a great camp that way.”

How does working the tight ends change to help out the tackles? “If I can play ten guys I’ll play ten guys. I mean to me, as many as can play are going to play. But again to play, you’ve got to be acceptable in that way. Someone told me long ago ‘you’ve got to play because your uncle calls and he says why isn’t he playing?’ Come watch film! A lot of what goes on is to me he should be playing because he was this recruit, that recruit, or he’s a sophomore, he’s a junior…”

“It’s are you in the best five and do you know what to do, how to do it, why to do it? And to me to do you know exactly what to do when we test on Fridays before games, when we’re watching film and I ask a question SNAP! Is it spit out? If it’s wellll, but, but, but… Again to me I put a lot on my guys. They’re expected when I ask the question who do you trust playing in this game? They’re going to list that and I take a lot of value in that. Because fourth-and-one anywhere we go and that guys comes running off the sideline and four other guys are going ohhhh, boy…I don’t want that. So I want five guys who say hey, we’re ready to go; one guy went down, the next guy is ready to go.”

Is there always five guys in that sense? “There’s five, six, seven. If I have four I’m in trouble! That’s the rules of football I guess, I need five. But to me it’s always looking for six, seven, eight. And now again if Justin Malone is not in the best five, the one thing is he’s the sixth at guard, he’s the sixth at tackle. How that works is I’m going to play the sixth best guy and if guys have got to move that’s great. I’m not going to put (one in) because the depth chart he’s the second right tackle. I don’t really care, the sixth best guy is going to play in that position.”

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