DEPTH: O-Line

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The biggest question mark of the 2012 season will be hung right over John Hevesy’s offensive line. But it will be because of inexperience, not depth.

In 2011, the O-line was really only six men deep: Quentin Saulsberry, Addison Lawrence, Gabe Jackson, Tobias Smith, James Carmon and Dillon Day. When Saulsberry and Carmon went down in the Auburn game Blaine Clausell was forced into action. When Tobias Smith was injured for the season vs. LSU he was forced to start. Luckily Saulsberry and Carmon were able to come back but the line was very thin all year.

Enter 2012 and Lawrence, Carmon and Saulsberry have graduated. The good news is that a new crop of young offensive lineman are ready to get on the field. In addition to that MSU signed two Juco transfers in Charles Siddoway and Dylan Holley.

At Left Tackle Blaine Clausell takes over after four starts last year. His main backup is likely to be whoever loses the position battle at Right Tackle. Sophomore Archie Muniz could see the field and former Juco transfer Joey Trapp is available in case of emergency.

At Left Guard All-SEC player Gabe Jackson has set up shop. Templeton Hardy, a senior who was highly-touted coming out of high school, is on the depth chart as well but probably won’t see too much time on the field.

At Center Dillon Day will man the 1st team. He started nine games last year and played in all 13. Backing him up is Dylan Holley who was a NJCAA 2nd team All-American at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College last year.

At Right Guard Tobias Smith should get most of the playing time provided he is healthy enough. Former walk-on Ben Beckwith could see significant playing time as well as Redshirt Frosh Justin Malone, a mammoth at 6′-7″, 315.

At Right Tackle Charles Siddoway and Sophomore Damien Robinson are battling it out for the starting job. Siddoway comes in as good Juco prospect while Robinson was highly-touted coming out of high school and most are hoping he will step into a much bigger role this year.

I haven’t been watching them practice, just like everyone else not donating tons of money hasn’t been, but here’s how I’d rank this year’s lineman based off of talent + experience…

1. Gabe Jackson
2. Dillon Day
3. Tobias Smith
4. Blaine Clausell
5. Charles Siddoway
6. Damien Robinson
7. Ben Beckwith
8. Dylan Holley
9. Justin Malone
10. Archie Muniz
11. Templeton Hardy
12. Joey Trapp

I’d say those top 8-9 guys are a pretty good rotation. Of course, I have no real idea how comfortable Dan Mullen feels with anyone outside probably the top 6. He has expressed concern about what they’d do if anyone is injured, just as he did last year. It doesn’t appear to me that things are as thin as last year – as MSU has the potential to have 10-12 guys who can play at a pretty high level.