Melichar Earns His Stripes This Season

After redshirting his true freshman season, offensive tackle Mark Melichar earned his stripes this season while backing up All-SEC performer Michael Brown.

"Whenever (starting left tackle) Mike Brown needed a breather, coach decided to put me in," said Mark Melichar. "In Tulane, I think I played 14 snaps. Against LSU about 15. In the Kentucky game I played in a couple of series. It was a good experience for me."

And his position coach, J.B. Grimes, likes what he sees from the youngster.

"He is a young man who is a technique sound guy," said Grimes. "He's got to get bigger and stronger, but he's smart and he really wants to be a good football player. That's one of the intangibles that is really important in an offensive lineman."

As was his redshirt freshman season, it was a season that allowed him to adjust to and learn the ins and out of the college game.

"The difference between last year and this year is I understand the game better," said Melichar. "And you think a lot different your second year. When you get to the line of scrimmage you are thinking what's the coverage or how many backers do we have in the box. A lot runs through your mind, but you are more sure of yourself the second year."

Although he's currently playing backup to Brown at left tackle, it looks like spring practice will see him playing both tackle positions as the coaches evaluate which position he's best suited for.

"I think they are going to keep me at left tackle, but I've been hearing maybe a little right tackle," explained Melichar. "I'm comfortable playing both because I played right tackle in high school. Here, I played right tackle my redshirt year and then they moved me to left tackle during the spring game last year. So, I've been playing left all this year and have gotten used to is. I feel I can do fine at both now."

As of now, Brown is solid at the left tackle position and it appears true freshman Derek Sherrod will start out as the starter at right tackle. But that doesn't mean Melichar won't play much next year. In fact, if this season is any indication, the backups will play in about 30 to 40% of the plays.

"That's fine with me," said Melichar when asked his thoughts about providing backup to either Brown or Sherrod next season. "If you have guys that are adequate backups that keeps you from having much of a dropoff from the first unit, why not use them? When those defensive linemen get tired and you put in a fresh offensive line in that will only help us."

But of even more help is Coach Grimes, a man who believes in teaching his players the smallest of details.

"Coach Grimes is a great offensive line coach," said Melichar. "He's a technician who wants everything perfect which helps us in the long-run. Everything has to be perfect - your hands, your feet."

And it's easy for a coach to teach a player like Melichar because he's going to put forth the necessary effort required to learn those details.

"He is the kind of guy who will come to work and be consistent," said Grimes. "You are not going to see a high one day and a low the next. He will be the same everyday.

" I love coaching a guy like that."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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