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August 5, 2014
Finding Five Upfront
As a team in 2013, Mississippi State was able to find success on the ground. The Bulldogs rushed for 2400 yards collectively.
Whether it was quarterback Dak Prescott or a revolving door of running backs, Mississippi State found immense offensive success getting behind the blocks of a strong offensive line.
From that offensive line, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach John Hevesy returns left tackle Blaine Clausell, center Dillon Day and right guard Ben Beckwith.
Besides finding two more starters, Hevesy wants to fill out a two-deep at each offensive line spot before the season begins.
"Who are the guys you trust to play? We take a test every Friday and I ask them, 'Who do you trust to play in a game?' During a game, I'm on the sideline," said Hevesy. "They have to go out there on fourth-and-one on the road somewhere and trust the guy next to them."
One guy Mississippi State trusted upfront immensely is Gabe Jackson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. Hevesy is tasked with finding a replacement for the All-American and All-Conference performer.
The leading candidate to do that is sophomore Jamaal Clayborn.
Throughout camp, Clayborn is relying on the Mississippi State defensive line to up his game, so he can win the left guard spot and be the guy to replace Jackson.
"We have one of the best defensive line corps in the country. They're all physical, big and have great athletic ability," said Clayborn. "Practicing against those guys is a great opportunity to get better every day."
The six-foot-four, 320-pounder feels that Chris Jones gives him a challenge every single day.
At right tackle, Damien Robinson is a senior that could start. Additionally, Justin Malone could be a third offensive guard to for Mississippi State.
Throughout camp, Hevesy will continue to evaluate until he gets to a number that he is comfortable with entering the season.
"I'd love to say I had 10, 11 or 12. But, the guys who have played, like Justin (Malone), Jamaal (Clayborn), Ben (Beckwith), Dillon (Day), Blaine (Clausell), I feel like I have them," Hevesy said. "Everyone else has to catch up to them."
Hevesy isn't going to lower his standards, just to create depth.
"We aren't giving in, because we have to have an eighth guy. If I have seven who can play, then someone will have to double or triple up somewhere," Hevesy added.
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