The one unit that everybody points to when talking about next year's football team is the O-line. Having a good line is absolutely vital to offensive success. Protection in the passing game, opening holes in the running game, makin' blocks, etc.
2010 featured one of the best lines in recent memory, but the graduation of Derek Sharrod and J.C. Brignone left State thin for 2011. Early on there were plenty of injuries including talented guard Tobias Smith going down for the year against LSU. John Hevesy was forced to run a piecemealed line into the teeth of the season. With three of those starters graduating for that line (Quentin Saulsberry, Addison Lawrence and James Carmon), this is a big concern.
|Gabe Jackson||6'4", 320 lbs||Jr.||Liberty, MS (Amite County)|
|Blaine Clausell||6'7", 305 lbs||So.||Mobile, AL (Baker)|
|Dillon Day||6'4", 285 lbs.||So.||West Monroe, LA (West Monroe)|
|Tobias Smith||6'3", 305 lbs||Sr.||Columbus, MS (Columbus)|
|Damien Robinson||6'7", 315 lbs||So.||Olive Branch, MS (Olive Branch)|
|Archie Muniz||6'5", 290 lbs||So.||Houston, TX (Cypress Creek)|
|Templeton Hardy||6'4", 300 lbs||Sr.||Como, MS (North Panola)|
Key Members to Replace
Quentin Saulsberry: all time MSU leader with 50 career starts. That's every single game of his career, and a very versatile lineman.
Addison Lawrence: underrated tackle for State. 3-year starter at MSU.
James Carmon: he did switch from the D-line, but he wasn't the greatest player. I have a feeling he underachieved as he is being considered by some NFL teams.
Key Members Returning
Gabe Jackson: probably State's best lineman in 2011, selected to the 2nd team All-SEC.
Dillon Day: played Center in 2011 as a freshman after Tobias Smith went down and Saulsberry switched to guard to cover for him. Started 10 games by my count.
Blaine Clausell: received a fair amount of playing time in 2011 as a freshman.
Tobias Smith: he has had 3 major injuries in four seasons at State. Each one of those injuries cost him basically an entire season. He is a good player when healthy, but that is the key word.
Newcomers to Watch
Charles Siddoway: Juco transfer from California. He is likely to start at left tackle.
Dylan Holley: Juco transfer from MGCCC (2nd team All-American). He will probably start at Center.
Damien Robinson: He was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school. Listed as the starting right tackle for spring practice, it's time for his to take the reigns.
2011 Position Performance
I don't know what to say here, so I'll give it a grade: C-
What to Expect in 2012
If the offensive line was just okay last year, and we lost three seniors, two of which were very experienced, then there is obviously a BIG concern here. Gabe Jackson should be holding down the left guard spot, so we don't have to worry about him.
Who will play right guard? Will Tobias Smith be healthy enough to play, and if he is can he stay healthy? Blaine Clausell is an option, redshirt freshman Justin Malone is listed as the starter for spring practice. Could Dillon Day swap over to RG?
Charles Siddoway will most likely be at left tackle, and he should be a good option there.
There's some big questions at right tackle as well. Will Damien Robinson be ready to play at this level? If not, can Archie Muniz step in?
Dylan Holley will likely start at center. How will he do? That is a big question, and will Dillon Day need to play there if Holley isn't able to do well in SEC competition.
There is a lot of youth on the offensive line, and a lot of players who are expected to have big roles, but have never really seen a SEC field. Going into the season, Gabe Jackson is the only known commodity, everything else is a hope. There's no doubt, the O-line is the 'X' factor for the 2012 Bulldogs.
Next up in the FWTCT Football Spring Position Previews is Defensive Line. Look for the D-Line preview post to go up this afternoon.