Hevesy was having a bit of humor over this unique scouting situation. A first-quarter deluge washed out LSU’s opener with McNeese State after the visiting Cowboys had hiked the ball three total times. So ‘scouting’ the 2015 Tigers didn’t take much time.
Still if the Bulldog blocking coach lacks fresh material to screen this week, Hevesy and staff can call on a thick file of Tiger tendencies in the Les Miles era. And that, he said, is a useful starting point to prepare Mississippi State schemes.
“It’s like anything else. You look at coaches’ histories of where they’ve been and what they’ve done. Ultimately every coach has his philosophy so you have to look at every variation.”
What Hevesy calls philosophy could be labeled just plain talent by anyone else. Among the many Southeastern Conference clichés, a big, physical, fast, and aggressive LSU defensive line is assumed. 2015 is no different. Names numbers change.
The blocking challenge remains consistent.
So does Hevesy’s response. “It’s still to us, what’s our base fundamentals?”
A fundamental fact of this Bulldog offense has been re-stocking three starting jobs on the front line. There were no opening-night lineup surprises as the first-five in March was intact on September 5. They were tackles Justin Senior and Rufus Warren, guards Devon Desper and Justin Malone, around center Jamaal Clayborn.
“There was a lot of good things we got out of the first game, with three new starters,” Hevesy said. Despite this, the coach still gave the group an “average” grading. Then again Hevesy is a notoriously tough official scorer. So read into the rating…whatever.
An obviously good thing was Clayborn’s first start at center. The converted guard did his job just fine, especially considering State decided to go silent cadence in a road game. A tricky challenge for a first-time starter, but it worked out well.
“We made no false starts, no off-sides, no bad snaps. Which there shouldn’t be anyway, but just to be your first game going silent cadence I think was a good game for him.”
For the rest of the first-team Hevesy did cut converted tight end Warren and the rest some slack. “The first game getting back into things which is always hard. You know, just not hitting anybody until when we played last.” The biggest marks against MSU were a pair of holding penalties.
Also, “We have to pick things back up. We need to play lower, get our pads down, and plant our feet a little more.”
Had the opening game developed more smoothly, State would have put more linemen into action. The Eagles did not cooperate, aided by some Bulldog kicking game gaffes, so backups barely broke a sweat. Tackle Cole Carter saw some reserve work, and guard Deion Calhoun took his stance in the final series along with his regular placekick protect role.
Hevesy wanted to play more. “I didn’t get Joc(quell Johnson) in the game,” he mentioned. But the #2 center and peers did have plenty of practice as if they were going to play and Hevesy said the preparation did everyone good.
Departing from campus last Friday also reminded the line coach of something. “I didn’t realize until going in there I brought twelve guys with me. Six had never been on a road trip before. Even getting on the bus and being the hotel for Saturday preparation, they kept walking around saying where are we supposed to be, what are we supposed to do?” Though five did not get in the game, they were in synch with the gameplan.
“It’s going to be different for them now. Not being on the sidelines being ‘juice boys’ or whatever they are, ‘now I’m going in.’”
So, back to what all the Bulldog blockers should or could see this week from LSU? Probably not a lot that they did not see in spring and preseason from a Bulldog defensive line that has size, strength, and speed as well. Not to mention all sorts of variations brought by coordinator Manny Diaz.
But for the Tigers, some things don’t change, Hevesy figures.
“They’re still going to line up in four-down or three-down. If they walk up with one-down we’ve got to adjust on the sidelines fast.”