(John Hevesy) Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

A Spring Q&A with the Bulldog Line Boss About Assembling a Fresh Front for 2016

Spring football is for teaching. It’s also for testing. Especially so with Coach John Hevesy. Because, “I’m not going to experiment in the middle of a season!”

Nope, the Bulldog offensive line coach wants to spend this spring examining his personnel, their potential, and all practical possibilities for the 2016 season. Over the course of this eighth camp at Mississippi State, Hevesy has flipped a few tackles to opposite ends of the first-team line; evaluated rising young guards and redshirts at centers and vice-versa; and just generally encouraged chemistry among all combinations.

Hevesy, also the run game coordinator, and staff have one final week ahead to work everyone before Saturday’s spring game. The coach spoke after practice about the state of State blocking with specific looks at most of the two-deep.


How has Martinas Rankin progressed this spring? “Good. I think he’s had a real good spring. The biggest thing for him is the crucial situations of turning over, not just playing. He’s done a great job fundamentally, and to me he’s had an exceptional spring.”

“The big, big thing for him is turning over not all the fundamentals he’s got; when it’s third-and-10 from first-and-ten, when it’s red zone how things turn-up really for him. That’s game experience, which having a year off from true game experience those are the things that are correctible; and those are the things that he’s got to look at more than just hey, I have great fundamentals.”

“You can’t think about those any more. Now it has to be what’s the down-and-distance, what’s the situation, what’s going to happen, where are the pressures coming from, what’s going on? That’s the biggest thing he has to learn now.”

“After ten practices I’m very pleased with his progressions in the spring. Now for him it’s going to the last five really turn-over the game experience where practice-wise they’re getting all that experience.”


How much can you simulate that in practice? “That’s what our scrimmages are for. Again it’s a mindset of learning, and you get it in scrimmages. But in practice and we have our two scrimmages you have to turn over more there. But now even changing the situations instead of here, just go first-and-ten. Now it’s red zone, here’s third down, here’s short yardage; that does not change technique and fundamentals. It’s really to me demeanor, of coming off the ball. It’s how all those things are going to change what they’re doing.”


Are Justin Senior and Martinas switched from left-to-right from last year? “Really Martinas did a lot of left last year in practice. Justin’s been right for two-and-a-half years. So this spring for Justin is to be able to, like last year with injuries, come around and move guys there. I’m not going to experiment in the middle of a season. To me I can experiment now with Justin at left, Martinas at right. Elgton Jenkins did both last year, he’s done it. So it’s really get them comfortable not for tomorrow, for next year. They’ve done it this spring, now they can go rep-live both of them.”

“Same thing at the guards with Jamaal Clayborn at center and getting some guard reps again. I worry about the marathon, not the sprint.”


How does having a new quarterback affect everything with the line? “I told them, the other day in the meeting we talked about that. And I go back to three years ago with Justin Senior and Justin Malone. Then Dillon Day and Blaine Clausell had played, they were the guys that had to carry those through it. Last year you needed Senior and Malone to carry some of those other guys through it, Devon Desper had played a little bit.”

“Now it’s really Senior and Desper and Jamall have played, you’ve got to help Deion and Martinas. And really the five as a group, Martinas a junior college kid, Deion has played really the least, is the youngest of all. Really they’ve got to help those quarterbacks. With Ashton Shumpert in the backfield, and Brandon Holloway, they’ve got to help the quarterbacks until they get grooving with the experience part.

“When all these things are flying, that’s leadership. Where is the leadership coming from? And as young guys playing, I’ve told Deion you’ve got to be a great follower. They’re helping you lead, you have to be a great leader. I don’t need you to try to be a leader, you’ve got to be a great follower. That’s listening and watching what they’re doing.”

“And leaders help them progress by taking what they’re getting. Don’t fight for how do I do this? They’ve been through these wars, they’ve got experience. Be a great follower to them.”


How are you working Jenkins in this rotation with Rankin and Senior, since you always want three tackles for the two spots? “Yeah, I do. And all three of them have had good springs. What it is, just again when guys walk out of spring the good things is it’s not who is the starter. I don’t know who is the starter. Walking out of spring is there are three kids that can play tackle.”

“That to me is a fight right to week-one. And they have to understand that no one is a 1, no one is a 2 right now. Those three kids it’s a fight. So every day matters, every rep matters you take. That’s what is being evaluated.”


Calhoun really feels more comfortable now, sort of knowing what he doesn’t know. Have you see that progress in him? “Oh, yeah. Again, I think he’s had a really good spring. But it’s important for him to be that guy, when he’s sitting with the ones that I’ve got to hold up my end of the deal. So you can see he is very conscious about what he does. And he’s just got to keep going, keep learning.”


Desper has switched to left guard in spring, is that a similar approach as with the tackles? “Yeah. Devon has done both and he’s got to be able to do both. He has experience.

“If I’ve got to put a young guy in, I’m going to keep him one spot, he’s going to stay there. Someone else has got to go. So with Deion and Devon have both done right and left. Now again for them it’s just being comfortable at both, not ‘oh now I’ve got to go over there’. It’s just getting reps at both and going from there.”


What have you asked from Clayborn this spring? “Step up. Be a leader. He’s a guy that’s experienced; help younger guys. Help Deion. You still have more experience than him, help him. If someone else goes in there, Michael Story or Darryl Williams, help them.”

“If Martinas is out there don’t look at him like it’s his fault, that’s your fault. It’s Martinas’ first year playing again, if he has a problem it’s your fault. Devon Desper it’s your fault. Because you two have played. Again, Martinas has got to be a great follower but you’ve got to be great leaders.”


Are Story and Williams on schedule? “Yeah, I think they need to accelerate a little more. I think they’ve had good springs. I’ll say I’m pleased with them, they’ve done probably what I thought. Now, it’s no redshirts; you’ve got to play, you’ve got to be ready to play.”

“Do I expect you to play? Maybe not but you have to be ready to play when your number is called. That’s your responsibility.”


In the scrimmage Jocquell Johnson was again taking snaps at center, are you looking for a position? “No, I think he’s done enough. The year at center last year helped him. Then go out and play tackle, while we get Harrison Moon reps at center. Harrison has done a decent job. With Jocquell, now if Jamaal twists his ankle he’ll go with the ones and I don’t end up a redshirt or true freshman in there and say go with the ones, it’s probably too much.”

“So we put Joc back in there again. What’s your role? Everybody’s got a role, is it going to be the fourth tackle, the third tackle, the second center, where it’s going to be? But that’s part of him earning a spot and earning responsibility for this team and group.”


It doesn’t impact your line drills but do you like your guys seeing a different type defense in scrimmages, such as the front Peter Sirmon has brought in? “Yeah. But to me, it’s the same. It’s still line up in threes, line up in Gs, still line up in shades, line up in a nose. We’re going to see that whether it’s Geoff Collins or Manny Diaz or whatever. There are defenses you have to adapt to somewhere along the line.”

“I tell them we’ve got to get what we’ve got this year, what we get in the spring, in the fall, that’s got to be banked for next year. We have to adjust back whether it’s going to be just a blitzing frenzy we have to adjust. But what we have in the bank is in the bank, now we adjust to little things.”


Gene's Page Top Stories