Posted: 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
The 2013 Mississippi State offensive line is kind of like that kid who sold out to get the one really nice toy. It's an awesome toy, no doubt, but he/we better hope it lasts, because we don't have much past it. That was a really poor analogy, but what I was trying
and failing miserably to say is that the talent is there for the Mississippi State offensive line in 2013, the depth just isn't.
Even though State didn't really lose anyone big following last year, they will more than likely look to operate on a tight eight-man rotation. When he discussed those depth concerns last week at the MSU Media Day, Dan Mullen had this to say:
"Well no, you're always nervous. You want to have the ability to have eight. You want three tackles, three guards, two centers and if you have that you feel comfortable. But you want to have eight every single week. So as long as you stay healthy I feel great about the depth! Because you've got the eight guys ready to go."
"It's when injuries start to strike that who is the ninth, who is going from ninth to eighth? If we have two injuries who is going from tenth to eighth? That is always a trick deal for you. I feel pretty comfortable with eight right now, maybe even nine which is a good thing to have. You've got the one in the bullpen possibly, we might get an inning or two out of Tobias (Smith), right? You know, bring him in and get an inning. I make sure we check his weight every once in a while, he's trying to slim up and it's make sure you keep your weight on in case we need an inning out of you. But that is where you want to be comfortable. I would obviously love to be ten, twelve deep. But as long as you're always feeling comfortable about the eight guys ready to go play in a game you're going to be OK."
In short, Dan's saying that "hey, we've got eight guys that we feel confident in, but after that, well lets hope that we can get it done with those eight." And in a perfect world, that eight man rotation works just fine. It's not that the talent isn't there behind those guys, it's just that most of it is really young, and maybe not ready for SEC action play in and play out. But, this unit looks to be the best since the 2010 group that was led by Derek Sherrod. So, going forward, we can certainly hope that injuries stay far away from our offensive line, even though they'll all essentially be offered up as sacrifice to Jadaveon Clowney in November.
Talent wise, the duo of Gabe Jackson at left guard and Dillon Day at center has to make you feel confident about the middle of that line. Not only are the two among the best at their positions in the SEC, but they have a chemistry that could prove valuable on the field. Jackson may be one of the best guards in the country, and I think Day doesn't get the respect he deserves at the center position. Probably people hating on the tattoos, or something. Add to that dynamic duo a young Justin Malone who cut his teeth in some games last year, and State's interior three are as solid as you could ask for.
On the edges, there is a bit more of an area of concern, but even then, there is plenty of experience. Blaine Clausell was thrown into the fire early in his career in 2011 against Auburn, but he's gained quite a bit of valuable experience since then, starting 17 games over the last two years. Last year, Blaine's efforts were serviceable, but State will need him to further improve going into this fall in order to give time to Tyler to throw the ball, and to give State the best opportunity for success.
On the outside edge of the right side of the offensive line, we will most likely see Charles Siddoway again, who started all 13 games at right tackle for MSU last year. Again, you'll notice the theme across the front is plenty of experience, as four of the five starters started every game in 2012, while the other drew four starts as well.
Overall, I think this unit will be strong in 2013, and an integral part of any potential MSU success. Should they manage to stay healthy, you should see the offensive line help MSU improve from its middle-of-the-pack rushing and passing yardage rankings in the nation last year, and hopefully we can see that 38th best sacks allowed number (19) in the nation last year dwindle even more. The biggest question to me will be whether or not this line can step up and provide the run blocking needed to be successful against some of the better teams on the schedule this year. Last year, this unit had its struggles against the LSU's and Alabama's, so with it being a veteran group, one can hope that we will see improvement against some of the tougher opponents on this year's schedule.