Hevesy Comfortable With Starting Front Line

John Hevesy isn’t discussing diet, even if the subject is those biggest Bulldogs. Training table results are obvious anyway. Their coach’s concern is how his offensive linemen have absorbed three weeks of preseason instruction and practicing.

With eight working days left before Mississippi State kicks it off? “They’re getting it now,” Hevesy said. “And they’ve got to keep eating and digesting everything they’re getting.”


It is a heckuva buffet Hevesy has put out for Bulldog blockers. As to be expected that quintet coming out of spring as first team have dined best. Barring a big bar… no, we won’t go there. If nothing goes wrong between now and September 5 it will still be right tackle Justin Senior, right guard Devon Desper, center Jamaal Clayborn, left guard Justin Malone, and left tackle Rufus Warren lining-up against the Southern Mississippi defense.


After that? Hevesy probably knows who and how he’d substitute already. But for now he’d prefer players determine the depth chart for themselves.


With game week coming up what is your evaluation of the offensive line? “The first five are good. The second five really are coming along. There are still some things they have to pick up just in terms of experience of playing, every day stuff. The first thing I said in preseason is the hardest thing you can’t still replicate is experience on the field. The atmosphere of a game and all those things.”


“Which we try to do as much as possible with the crowd noise at practice, going against the ones, against the twos, getting live reps. But it’s still the game experience. So you’ve got to keep preparing them for. Keep talking through it, keep getting through it. That’s the biggest thing.”


“But the first five, they’ve all played, they’ve been in situations. The second five is a young group, so I give them as much experience as I can, as fast as I can.”


Last week you were still working 15, 16 linemen. Are you narrowing the practices to those who will play? “It’s getting to that point today and tomorrow we’re kind of starting to narrow that stuff down in terms of the scout exchange and stuff like that. So you start getting those nine, ten, for me eleven guys that I’m going to keep out there and get reps that you’re going to start getting ready.”


“That’s why I said it really narrows down to really those first two groups, here is f this is what you have to get, start every little thing pounding them with all the time. Of what’s going to happen, what we have to get ready for as we start gameplanning.”


Were you satisfied with the scrimmage results? “For the most part, yeah. You saw kids step up. I guess the biggest thing is when you go in that stadium they still run the same plays, nothing changes. To me you put kids in that spotlight on kids, some kids have a tendency to shine. Some kids have a tendency to say even though it’s an empty stadium oh I’ve got to do something different.”


“I talked to the kids about that before and after, it’s still the same thing. It’s a grass field, the same 100-yard field, same everything. Don’t change to do things other than who we play. We have to do what we have to do fundamentally, technique-wise, everything. And that will take care of whatever it is. There are some things you might have to change. But to me you’ve got to understand, you’ve got to know the what-how-and-why of everything you so. Which is fundamentals, techniques, assignments, and all that stuff. So it’s an every-day process.”


“You saw a lot of that in the scrimmage. And you saw some kids that stepped up a little bit in a game situation, and some you still see a little bit of bright eyes walking in there.”

Where does (transfer tackle) Martinas Rankin stand now? “To me he’s right along where he should be. I think he’s embracing it. Like anything, it’s the hardest thing for kids…they say he played in junior college. If you look he probably played less than or as many as any high school kid play. So the atmosphere there, again it’s an experience of doing it.”


“And a lot of the terminology and stuff is a lot more than he’s used to. But he’s progressed well, he’s picking it up well. He’s a great kid in terms of he’s always asking great questions. He’s always on top of things, he wants to know. Which is a great thing. Now like anything, it’s a point of know(ing).”


Who are your leaders in the group? “I think Justin Senior, Justin Malone. Those are the two that have the most experience. You see Jamaal doing it in the center position. Devon Desper is a great, consistent guy that’s been around, has some experience playing. So you see him bringing that accountability to the group.”


“And I think Rufus does a great job of leading. He’s still learning the game at that tackle. I mean he’s doing very well. In terms of the 70 plays he’s playing he’s still coming along. But he brings a great emotion, passing for the game. Which is a big thing for us.”


How is (sixth year senior right tackle) Damien Robinson? “He’s doing well. He’s still progressing through it. I think you see it hamper him a little bit, not as much as it has, but it’s got better for him. He’s getting even more comfortable playing with the injury. The confidence in playing on it is huge. A couple of times in camp you saw it doesn’t bother him. Just the nerves of OK, if I do that the wrong way it might click it again. But I think he’s done a heck of a job getting through that stuff.”


Deion Calhoun is the third guard, who is your fourth guard? “Deion right now. I think when you talk about eight guys, Deion has been at right and left really all camp. He’s gone back-and-forth, he still does it now.”


“Ronald Cochran has had a great camp which has impressed a lot of people with what he’s done. To me he’s about in the same position, the same thing. Those are the four that are running in it to me. Depending on what happens.”


“Jamaal can still go out there, if I had to I could move guys in. That’s more a physical than mental position to play.”


How has (redshirt transfer) Jocquell Johnson developed at center? “I the past week he’s probably done the best he’s done in terms of understanding the game. Which for me at center, that’s understanding the whole game. It’s not just understanding what guard have, a physical deal. I think center is where he’s starting to see the things I ask to look for, in terms of the coverage, in terms of the linebacker movement, in terms of movement up front and setting everybody up. He’s done a great job of that really the last couple of days, probably a week he’s done a great job starting to figure out this is what I needed to do to help myself and help the four guys around me.”


“The hardest thing with depth is the experience. There’s not a lot of it behind him. They’re getting every day because they’re getting a thousand reps, whatever, 1,800 reps or something in camp. Break that down ones and twos they’ve got somewhere around 700 reps in camp. So every day they’re watching film and seeing themselves now. They’re getting it now and they’ve got to keep eating and digesting everything they’re getting.”

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