If there is one thing Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke has developed, it is versatility.
And it's been out of necessity, not necessarily out of want-to.
"We like to have our best five available, healthy guys out there as much as possible," said Luke. "When injuries occur, sometimes that means needing to swap some guys around at different positions. We have been blessed to have guys versatile enough to do that in the past couple of years as injuries have mounted."
Last year, it was Robert Conyers and Sean Rawlings both playing tackle and center. This year's Mr. Versatile - by a nose - is Javon Patterson, who is centering and playing left guard. Runnersup go to Jordan Sims and Daronte Bouldin, for playing both guard slots, but that isn't quite as difficult, so Javon gets the nod.
"I've told you guys before, you have to be versatile. I feel great about it. Being able to be versatile is critical, When someone goes down, someone has to step up and we have been blessed to have guys who can handle more than one position," said Patterson, the OL, not the QB. "Sean and Conyers have done it. Jordan does it and so does Daronte."
Rawlings and Conyers will both do their best to play against MSU in the Egg Bowl Saturday, but look for Patterson to start at center and then move to left guard when Conyers and Rawlings can go for a few snaps here and there.
"We will get it all worked out and come up with an effective plan," said Javon. "Coach Luke is great at doing that - coming up with a lineup that will work even when there are injuries."
Ahh, the Egg Bowl.
"Growing up in Mississippi, this is it," said Javon. "We won last year my true freshman year and I'd like to see that continue.This game means a lot to both teams, to both schools, to the state of Missisisippi. Bragging rights - it's what it's all about in this state. It will be hard - they will want it as badly as we do and most of the time it ends up going to the team that wants it the most. Records really don't matter much.
"Our task is to stay focused, knowing our gameplan and executing. We have to keep our heads in the game. It will be an emotional game, but we have to stay focused and take care of the task at hand."
His most memorable Egg Bowl?
"When I was being recruited, I think the 'Feed Moncrief' game was the most exciting to me. But, of course, playing in one, like I did last year, is also very, very special," he noted. "I was here for the 'Feed Moncrief' game and the atmosphere here was what sold me on Ole Miss."
Javon said last Saturday was frustrating - scoring the first 10 points of the game and then going three quarters with only one TD in a 38-17 loss to Vandy in Nashville.
"Very frustrating, but we have to keep our poise and keep going as a team," he added. "We don't have any excuses, we just had one of those games where it didn't seem like we could get anything going. We didn't win first downs and we didn't make some plays we normally make. Vanderbilt gave us some different fronts we had to deal with, but we just didn't get the job done.
"We are still young enough up front where we haven't seen everything we are going to see out of defenses, but we are getting there. We've now seen a lot, but sometimes you still get a look or two that is new and we just put it in the file for later when we see it again. Soon, we will have seen it all and adjust without Coach Luke having to tell us anything. We will be able to do it on our own on the fly."
But that is water under the bridge for Javon.
The focus now is Mississippi State.
"I want to win this for all the seniors, but especially for the leader in our room, Robert (Conyers)," he closed. "These guys, Robert included, have meant so much to Ole Miss football and what is being built here that we want them to go out with a win and with the Egg in Oxford."
Mr. Versatile 2016 will play a big hand in the game Saturday.