Injuries along MSU's offensive front before the Egg Bowl forced Dan Mullen to mix and match. The outcome wasn't positive, as seven sacks resulted. More injuries before the Belk Bowl against NC State forced another makeshift offensive line unit, but this time the results were on the other end of the spectrum.
Backups Elgton Jenkins and Deion Calhoun -- both redshirt freshmen -- started the contest after center Jamaal Clayborn suffered an injury during bowl practices a few days before the game. The reshuffling that followed allowed Calhoun to start at right guard, and Jenkins started at left tackle in place of Rufus Warren -- who missed the Egg Bowl.
It was a good look at the players next year's line will consist of, and they didn't disappoint. N.C. State only reached Dak Prescott for one sack on the day, and very few negative plays were allowed in a game that saw MSU eclipse 500 yards of total offense for the fourth time this season.
The 51 points scored by MSU set a Belk Bowl record. Dak Prescott also set Belk Bowl records for passing yards (380) and total offense (427). His four touchdown passes also tied the record in that category.
MSU's offensive line has taken a lot of heat especially toward the end of the season. Their performances against Alabama and Ole Miss were nothing short of atrocious. But they deserve a lot of credit for how they finished the season and helped Dak Prescott go out a winner in his final game as a Bulldog.
I realize N.C. State wasn't the same type of competition MSU faced in SEC play, but it's not like they were an easy test for State's offensive line either. Along with being one of the better pass rushing teams in the ACC, N.C. State has a stud defensive end in Mike Rose -- who will occupy a roster spot on an NFL team in a few months.
That was the one matchup I was concerned about for MSU heading into the game. Rose had a decent game with seven tackles, but he didn't record a single sack or tackle for loss. In fact, the Wolfpack only recorded one tackle for loss the entire game.
As much as we've criticized MSU's line throughout the season, they deserve a lot of credit for this one. I never expected to see MSU rack up 51 points and 569 yards of offense on a sloppy field in the rain. And I sure didn't expect to see such a young offensive line allow one sack against a solid pass rushing team.
We'll now wait nine months to see if it translates over to next season. For a brand new quarterback's sake who's about to take over the offense for the first time, let's hope it does.