Mississippi State’s offensive line was pretty bad during the 2015 season. John Hevesy is the O-line coach so you’d have to assume his job would be on the chopping block this offseason, but there’s one little issue. Hevesy is Dan Mullen’s boy. They are as close as Coach Croom was to Woody McCorvey. So should Scott Stricklin step in and force Mullen to fire his buddy?
MSU was 12th in the SEC allowing 31 sacks on the year. They were also 12th in the league in rushing with 1,684 yards (1,143 from running backs).
In all of Mississippi State’s losses the O-line was thoroughly dominated. In particular, against A&M, Bama and Ole Miss but especially Bama and Ole Miss. They were never good in the run game but did seem to hold it together in pass protection against weaker teams. But once a good D-line came at them they turned to mush.
The culprit according to most is not recruiting enough quality talent on the line. This year’s group featured one 2-star and four 3-stars including a converted Tight End. Three former 4-star players rode the bench the entire year: Damien Robinson, Jake Thomas and Martinas Rankin. Cole Carter was a redshirt junior who never played a significant role, and will forego his final year of eligibility.
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At least from the 2015 roster there were enough recruiting stars that MSU should have had a decent O-line. It could always be better – the D-line had one 5-star, two 4-stars and a 3-star; but it’s not like the OL were all 2-star recruits.
Is it a developmental issue? It’s hard to say for sure, but the fact that State had one of the best offensive lines in the SEC in 2014 with one 3-star, three 2-stars and a walk-on lends me to believe Hevesy knows how to develop players.
Was this year an anomaly? Perhaps – MSU has finished top 10 of the SEC in rushing every year under Mullen/Hevesy until this year and in the top 5 four times. Every single year since 2009 they’ve been in the top half of the SEC in sacks allowed.
Why did it all fall apart this year? I don’t know, but are we willing to throw in the towel on Hevesy for what appears to be an outlier of a year? I’m not saying Hevesy has ever produced much more than a serviceable OL, but clearly this year was the worst. Maybe some fans are ready for Hev to go, but I highly doubt Scott Stricklin would force a move based on results prior to 2015.
Next year MSU returns three starters: Devon Desper, Jamaal Clayborn and Justin Senior. Elgton Jenkins will most likely be in at Left Tackle, a position he played a lot of in 2015. Hopefully Martinas Rankin can provide a solid backup and/or challenge for a starting role. Maybe just maybe Jake Thomas will finally arrive, but if he doesn’t we’ll need help at Guard from Deion Calhoun, Joquell Johnson or somebody.