"I am very excited about the young guys. All of them are what we thought they would be. They have a chance to be very good football players before they leave. I don't know how soon any of them will play. Some of them might wind up playing this year, but all of them have the ability and a lot of good things about them."
Are you settled on any of your first and second-teamers?
"David Stewart is pretty much solidified at right tackle. I would say Brad Weathers at left guard is pretty solidified. There is a battle going on at left tackle between (Richard) Burch and (James) Redmond. Johnny Wadley is doing very good at right guard. (Otis) Riddley is also doing good. Avery House has also come on and done some good things. He will definitely figure into the mix at guard and tackle. (Chris) McNeil and (Blake) Jones are fighting it out at center. I have been pleased with (freshman) John Davis because he has been what I thought he was going to be. Is he going to be ready right now? No. But down the road he is going to be a good football player."
That surprises me about Burch and Redmond. Is it because Redmond has progressed so much or is it because Burch is not 100% back from last year's injuries?
"(Burch) is back and doing well, but Redmond is also doing well. They both came in at the same time and James, basically, has most of a spring on Richard, although Richard got to play in a couple of ballgames last year. You have two very young, very talented guys who are both about to be second-year players battling it out. I think we have a heck of a situation at (left tackle). "
It sounds like you are going to be pretty deep at both left tackle and center.
"If there is a natural progression, we should be in pretty good shape at left tackle and center."
Then, at guard you have Riddley challenging Wadley. He's not the 6-4 offensive lineman that so many coaches talk about wanting but he really seems to be doing well, so far.
"He is a good player. Offensive linemen come in all different shapes and sizes. You look at David Stewart and Otis Riddley. David is 6-6 and trim and Otis is shorter and stockier, but they are both effective players."
How soon do you feel you need to make a decision as to who will be your starting front five?
"Maybe a week before the season. You know who your top two (units) are going to be. I like to constantly roll my ones and twos. That way, when somebody gets hurt, you can plug in the next guy and go. That way they also all work hard and are all happy at practice because they are getting reps and will get to play in the game."
Your guys get to go against the young defensive linemen that have been impressive in practice. What is your impression of them?
"I am very impressed with those guys. There is definitely some very good young talent with Andrew Powell, Corey Clark and Devrick Hampton. They all have a mean streak in them, which is always good."
Andrew Powell has been a surprise to me because he wasn't that heavily recruited.
"He is as strong as an ox and quick as a cat.
"It is going to be good (to see them progress) because they are all high school players and they all have four to five years in front of them. D-linemen are hard to find and we have a good young crop of them. That is what is so exciting."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.