August 12, 2011 10:19:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy is looking left a lot more often they he''s used to.
In the past, the guarantee Hevesy had was things were solid at left tackle thanks to the player Dan Mullen said last year was "his best football player": Derek Sherrod.
"Now I got to spend more time teaching over there than probably the right side," Hevesy said. "You can see the experience of the offense and know where I have to concern myself more often."
Hevesy has more to occupy his attention because Sherrod received his degree and then left the Golden Triangle area for the first time in his life after the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers selected him in the first round of the NFL draft in April.
Things for MSU''s offense changed just that quickly.
"It''s not a situation of missing the run blocking or the pass blocking," Hevesy said. "It''s me sitting there and (not) saying I''m worried about what is going on over there. I knew he knew his assignments. That''s what I miss."
The competition for Sherrod''s spot at left tackle between senior James Carmon and redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell might be similar to the questions MSU faced last season when it had to replace all-time leading rusher Anthony Dixon.
"I think everybody said and knew that job would be done by a committee (and) not to say this will be done by committee, but nobody replaces first-round draft picks," Hevesy said.
Carmon, who said he weighed in at the lowest (305 pounds) he has been since stepping on campus last year as a transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has been primarily working with the first-team offense in camp after transferring from defensive tackle last spring.
"The main point (of emphasis) is protections at left tackle because with our quarterback being right-handed, they''ve handed me the responsibility of his blindside," Carmon said. "I''m picking it up, and I''m trying to take it step by step, and I''ll get it down."
Mullen is looking for consistency out of the only spot on the offensive line that doesn''t return a starter from last year''s nine-win season.
"It''s not the physical stuff, but it''s something I say in my head I have to do and as soon as the play is called, I do something else," Carmon said. "Then I look back at coach Mullen and Hevesy cussing me out but that''s how I''ll learn and get better."
Clausell has gone from a 17-year-old teenager who graduated early from Baker High School in Mobile Ala., and being dominated in the spring by defensive end Pernell McPhee to a guy who is battling for starting job in the Southeastern Conference. The road to this point for the two-star signee, who was the first Division I recruit from his high school, has had plenty of doubt.
"I had to rebuild my confidence because when you''re getting dominated early as a new guy against guys bigger and stronger than you, you worry about yourself," Clausell said. "I had a low confidence level and actually dropped, too."
Just a couple weeks into camp, Hevesy acknowledged Carmon and Clausell could sub in and out often at left tackle in the season opener Sept. 1 at the University of Memphis.
"I''ve made no decision on any position, so every day they need to go compete," Hevesy said. "Whether it''s (Carmon), Blaine or whoever it may be - nobody has the attitude right now where they''re saying, ''Well, I''m already second.'' "
Mullen "irritated" with Wednesday practice effort
Without naming names, Mullen wasn''t pleased Wednesday with the effort in what he described as "two-thirds" of the single day of practice.
"This morning I thought we played really slow," Mullen said. "I''m happy with the way we finished. I wasn''t really about the, you know ... two-thirds of the way through practice I was kind of getting a little annoyed. I was happy with how our guys were able to pull it together, sync it up and finish strong."
Mullen blamed the complacency of some of the younger players to the heat on The South Farm and the third straight day in full pads.
"As it gets hot, it''s a hot day, you''re full pads, you''ve been out there for a while I think you lose focus," Mullen said. "As soon as you lose focus, you stop giving great effort, then execution gets sloppy. We had to turn it around and our guys did at the end, I thought we competed. It was pretty physical at the end."
More tickets available for MSU home games
MSU officials announced Monday tickets allotted as part of contractual agreements for fans of opposing teams have been returned by the University of South Carolina and the University of Mississippi.
Therefore, an extra 2,500 tickets for the South Carolina game Oct. 15 and 2,000 for the season-ending Egg Bowl matchup with the Rebels on Nov. 26 will be available.
Individual game tickets are on sale to the general public through the ticket office, and less than 200 single-game tickets remain for games against Louisiana Tech (Sept. 24) and UT-Martin (Nov. 5). A little more than 1,300 tickets to the home opener Sept. 15 against LSU remain after the Tigers returned 2,000 tickets last week.
Tickets for road games at Auburn, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Kentucky, and Arkansas remain available through the MSU ticket office. For tickets to the season opener at Memphis, fans are encouraged to call the UM ticket office at 901-678-2331