Blockers Topic Of Opening-Practice Interest

Consider us warned. Or just teased? At least Rufus Warren was smiling about preseason positioning. “Right now it’s just left tackle,” he said, then “Y’all might look up and I’ll be playing center!”

Yeah, it’s a tease. Whatever else is addresses in coming weeks on the offensive line, Rufus Warren won’t be lining up over the football. Will he? “We never know what (Coach John) Hevesy is thinking!” Safer to say though that for the moment, for the day, #77 continues to take his stance on the left end of Mississippi State’s offensive line.

In fact, if there is to be any moving Warren around, it would conceivably be the other end. When he began this transition from tight end to down-lineman, it was as a reserve right tackle. Most of two years later here Warren is beginning his senior preseason as first-team over on the other side of everything.

“But because I played right and left it’s really no big transition for me. It’s the same thing for (Justin) Senior, wherever Hevesy is comfortable with us playing we’re going to play it.”

If this offensive line coach is ever un-comfortable, he doesn’t show it. Hevesy’s gruff confidence that a competitive front wall will be assembled doesn’t waver. Mississippi State fans? They will welcome every encouraging word that can come out of camp in regard to rebuilding a unit that lost three starters owning 113 combined career starts.

Not games played. Starts.

That is a lot by any accounting. Funny thing, though. Warren’s own calculations come out net-positive.

“Yeah, because we lost three guys, but the three guys that are going to replace them have experience playing in big games. Like Devon (Desper) started the Texas A&M game last year. I was in and out of the rotation behind Justin Senior.

“So we actually have guys that have played the game. It’s not new to us, that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. But once kickoff starts they will understand that this offensive line is no different than what they saw last year. If not better.”

Now that is a bold statement by any measure. Then again, who’d want to hear an offensive lineman moaning and moping around during August drills that they just hope to survive somehow? Nope. If Warren and cohorts want to set standards, why not raise them above even the record-setting offensive production of 2014?

At the same time Warren understands why no Bulldog blocker was chosen to any all-conference summer squads. They do still have to prove themselves. Nor was Warren insulted at all when nobody from his unit was selected to speak for Mississippi State during SEC Media Days. His quarterback, along with a defensive end and cornerback, did the talking in Hoover.

Warren didn’t even ask Coach Dan Mullen about being a squad spokesman. “Because offensive linemen, we’re some silent killers anyway!” he joked. More seriously, “We protect Dak (Prescott) and that’s our number-one job. Our job isn’t to be all in the media and stuff like that.”

But of course Warren is in the media here. He and the rest of his first-team Bulldog blockers will be asked for regular updates on how the offensive line is developing during a month of practicing which begins today. And if by some chance #77 does get over the football and hike it, well…we’ve got a story.

The Bulldogs assemble at the Seal Complex mid-afternoon to get their opening-session scripts, then report to the practice field around 4:50. This and all preseason sessions are closed to public view, though media will get to watch parts of three practice days. No full-team drills will be observed.

Mullen and requested offensive players take today’s turn with the press corps after practice.

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