Strong talk coming from any offensive player. From a newly-promoted starting offensive tackle? That might get some Bulldog defenders chuckling in anticipation of what could play-out on Scott Field Friday. Give Rufus Warren credit for setting the standard in advance, though.
“I want them to see it so they can be prepared for tomorrow!”
So everyone can consider themselves alerted. The intrasquad game begins at 10:15am and should conclude about two hours later, if all the scripted snaps are done and the head coach is satisfied. It is the eighth working day for Mississippi State, making this scrimmage the half-way point of camp.
It also is something of a benchmark for Bulldog blocker Warren. He’s reached the mid-point holding his place atop the left tackle depth chart, right where he began. Or is it left where he began? Either way or either end Warren is pleased. So far.
“I’m real comfortable, me being number-one I get to work with guys like Justin Senior and Dak (Prescott) and the transition is a little easier for me.” Though, Warren admits slight surprise to be where he is. Not first team, but left tackle.
Yes, it was opened by the graduation of three-year starter Blaine Clausell. Still Warren had a hunch he would stay at the right tackle position he’d practiced at last spring and spent the season in backup. Going to the left end was a March surprise.
“I didn’t know until a couple of days before the first practice. I thought I was going to be right and they were going to move Senior to left. But with Blaine being gone they just moved me to left.”
This can be seen as a show of faith in Warren’s potential. So has been the early-spring assignment of touted juco tackle Martinas Rankin to backup at right tackle behind Senior and Damien Robinson. Of course all things can change between now and kickoff.
Still for a fellow only twelve months into this position, first-team stature is impressive. It was a year ago at this time after all Warren left tight end to become a blocker.
“They told me at the end of the last season I should start getting ready for the transition. It worked out pretty good.” Maybe better than that, since “I’ve had a year to get used to it.”
Most of that year was spent as the reserve tackle to Senior, though Warren got a goodly number of snaps on the placekick team. He did have a setback along the way though and ended up with off-season ankle surgery.
“But I stayed in the weightoom and treatment,” Warren said. In fact “I came in on Saturdays and got good extra work.” That sort of dedication has paid off. So has his mental investment in a new identity after several college seasons as an eligible receiver/blocker with room to roam.
“At first it was real challenging. I mean, different number systems, working with guys that had already been there. It was kind of different getting the verbiage and all that different type of stuff. But now it’s kind of hands-on so I’m ready to go.”
Certainly Warren is ready to rumble Friday. Or he’d better be after Thursday’s post-practice promises. Not that it takes much to fire-up a defense at this stage of spring camp.
The usual spring-routine has the offense showing-off during the non- and limited-contact days. All the while the defensive teams say wait, just wait for the scrimmage, and we’ll show you maroon-shirt guys a thing or three.
But as Warren said, now blockers can cut defenders, or use the hands a little longer and harder, or whatever other tricks at their disposal. “I mean we can do whatever we want to do. So it’s going to be different.”
What he hopes is not different, for the rest of spring and through August practices, is where Warren stands on the tackle depth chart. He does agree, the job won’t be settled until the coach calls out his starters that Saturday in Hattiesburg.
“I can win in and I can lose it,” Warren said. “It’s going to be up to me but I plan on winning that starting job.”
The full video interview with Warren follows.