Has Dan Mullen & John Hevesy turned into Sly Croom & Woody McCorvey?

Dan Mullen has let his boy, John Hevesy, run State’s offensive line during his entire tenure….and it’s becoming a problem.

Why can’t Mississippi State run the ball anymore? Why can’t Mississippi State find at least one out of six running backs who can gain some traction against South Alabama – a team who had the 113th run defense in 2015 and lost their entire defensive line to injury just a few weeks ago?

The offensive line.

There’s some mind-boggling play calls like running Brandon Holloway up the middle for the umpteenth time, but there’s more of a reason why State can’t run it than lack of talent at tailback. You can’t tell me that State doesn’t have the horses when Holloway, 4-star Ashton Shumpert, Dontavian Lee, 4-star Aeries Williams, Alec Murphy and 4-star Nick Gibson are on the roster.

In 2015, MSU running backs ran for 76 yards per game. In Week 1 of the 2016 season they ran for 75 yards…..against a very weak run defense.

Why is this happening? Highly recruited offensive lineman aren’t panning out, and there aren’t enough offensive lineman in each recruiting class.

The hardest position to predict are offensive lineman. It comes as no surprise at any school that highly touted players like Jake Thomas or Kent Flowers don’t made the cut, but when your back-up plans are two and three star recruits it’s hard to piecemeal a line together every year. It’s even harder when you only have three linemen per class instead of five or six.

That’s what it seems Hevesy’s plan is each fall: to put together a patchwork, serviceable offensive line.

The problem is, he’s not finding the diamonds in the rough like he was before.

Derek Sharrod and Quentin Saulsberry were already on the team when Mullen and Hevesy got to MSU, and Gabe Jackson was already committed. Blaine Clausell and Dillon Day were two stars that turned out to really be four stars. Ben Beckwith fell in his lap as a walk-on turned All-American.

Now all those guys are gone. Last year’s offensive line featured a converted tight end and a couple of former 2-stars who weren’t much more than that.

2016 features an O-line who’s traded the former TE for a guy who was the #1 tackle in juco, but through one game that hasn’t made a difference.

The recruiting hasn’t been good at all, and now the development isn’t either.

Nov 22, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The problem is, John Hevesy is Dan Mullen’s boy. He’s not going to get rid of him unless his hand is forced. I’m still not 100% convinced he needs to go – but things aren’t looking good. I have defended Hevesy in the past and given him the benefit of the doubt because he’s been able to get it done year after year (thru 2014), but here we are and still can’t run the football.

Sylvester Croom had a similar problem with his boy, Woody McCorvey. Croom was dedicated to his interpretation of the west coast offense; defending it and McCorvey tooth and nail despite the lackluster results of running it up the middle three times for two yards and punting time and time again.

When Croom was fired, he said he would have made changes if Byrne had asked him to. Maybe that’s the truth or maybe it isn’t. If this current trend continues with Hevesy, then Scott Stricklin will have to step in and force Mullen’s hand.

There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to run the ball at Mississippi State. It’s been our bread and butter for decades and it was during Coach Mullen’s first six years. Now it’s killing the offense and we don’t have Dak anymore to win games through the air. Something has to be done.