Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Mississippi State senior guard talks about Elgton Jenkins move to potential starter at left tackle.

Mississippi State suffered some injuries last weekend on the road at Texas A&M. Only Kendrick Market is lost for the season, but some other contributors will be sidelined for a game or two. Starting left tackle Rufus Warren practiced on Tuesday, but is expected to sit this weekend as a precaution. Redshirt freshman Elgton Jenkins is slated to get his first college start this weekend against Troy. Bulldog left guard, Justin Malone, reports that Jenkins' is preparing with a next man up mentality.

"My job is still the same," Malone said. "I still have all of the things that I need to do and there are still some things that I need to be better at. Things are changing a little bit though, because now I have a redshirt freshman next to me instead of a senior.

"It sort of reminds me of when I was a redshirt freshman three years ago."

Having the experience of being thrust into the starting line-up with limited game reps, Malone believes he can aid in Jenkins' transition from reserve to play one blind side protector.

"He is going to need help," Malone said of Jenkins. "I am going to have to tell him what he needs to do. I am going to have to help him communicate. That is something that I am going to need to do during the game instead of just worrying about what I have to do.

"I still have to do my job, but part of my job now is to help him out, so that he can get his job done too."

Malone has already adopted the role of mentor and begun to prepare his linemate for the challenges that will come throughout the contest this weekend and beyond.

"When he as a question about what an assignment is, I am telling him what he has to do," Malone explained. "I am telling him what we're doing, where we're going and this is what the ID is. It's really just about letting him know things, so that he can get it done."

Like all freshmen, Jenkins has shown flashes of greatness, but also signs of inexperience. Malone reports that it has been a mixed bag of sorts, Now that the team is counting on the Clarksdale, Mississippi native full time he will need to show more consistency.

"When he is focused, he is good. When he's not focuses, he's bad," Malone said. "The challenge now is to get him focused all of the time. That's something that comes in time. It comes with experience and just playing. 

"It's one of those things where he has to get it. He doesn't have the option right now to be a redshirt freshman. He has to go play now."

Senior Rufus Warren is slowed by an ankle injury this week, so Jenkins has been practicing with the ones. That adjustment has taken some getting used to for Malone.

"It's a little different, because Rufus is so vocal," Malone said. "He knows what he needs to do and he knows this offense. With Elgton, he is asking questions. He is not as confident in what he's doing all of the time. You get all of the things you normally get from a freshman, but we can't have that right now."

The Bulldog offensive line entered the season looking to replace three starters from a year ago. The team had their best rushing output of the season last weekend as the chemistry along the line improved. Now a week later, a new name enters the starting equation for Coach John Hevesy's group.

"Having a new person changes things a little bit, but we can't allow it to change what we do," Malone said. "Since most of us had not played together as a unit much before this season, this change doesn't really change that. We still have those same issues to work through. 

"We were developing some chemistry, but now we have to add a new person in there and say 'Let's go', but that's football. People get hurt and people go down. We just have to put Elgton in and say come on big boy let's go."

Jenkins could see the lion's share of snaps at left tackle over the course of the next few weeks. Malone reports that playing three straight games at Davis Wade Stadium will only help Jenkins as he makes the move with the first group.

"It helps a lot to play at home," Malone said. "We're on our turf in front of our fans and we're here. It's one of those things where crowd noise isn't a problem. We don't have to worry about going silent cadence. We don't have to worry about the crowd deafening us where we can't here our quarterback or our plays. 

"Right now, we can get up, get down and Dak can call the play. We can just go play and he won't have to deal with all of that extra stuff that comes with playing on the road."


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