MSU notebook: Moorhead praises play of offensive line


The Mississippi State offensive line has not given up a sack in two games this season.

By: 
JOEL COLEMAN
Staff Writer

With Mississippi State quarterbacks looking to go deep in the passing game and running back Kylin Hill amassing huge numbers on the ground, the work of the MSU offensive line through the first two games this season could easily get overlooked.

On the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference Wednesday though, Bulldogs first-year head coach Joe Moorhead was asked about his offensive front and he made it clear that what his linemen are doing isn’t going unnoticed.

“I think they’re playing very well,” Moorhead said. “We haven’t given up a sack in two games. We’ve done a great job rushing the ball. We’re opening up holes and protecting (quarterbacks Nick Fitzgerald and Keytaon Thompson). Elgton (Jenkins) certainly is the brains and the eyes and the ears of the operation from the center position. He makes all the calls and declarations and things like that. I think it’s a group that prides itself on its physicality in the run game and the ability to keep Nick on his two feet.”

When it comes to lines, State’s defensive side tends to get most of the publicity with All-SEC first teamers Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons leading the charge. However the State offensive front quietly came into this season as one of the league’s most experienced, proven units and the group has lived up to the hype.

State returned a combined 76 starts on the offensive line this season. Four starters are back from last year’s squad. Only left tackle Greg Eiland wasn’t considered a starter last year, but even he started four games in place of an injured Martinas Rankin.

So far this year, State’s offensive line is one of just 12 teams in the FBS not to allow a sack. They’ve only given up two tackles for loss, which is the best mark in the FBS.

Furthermore, the MSU offensive line has also paved the way for the best rushing attack in the SEC as Mississippi State has averaged 302 yards per game on the ground. That total stands as the 10th-best mark in the country.

Story back

MSU’s offensive front will be a bit deeper this week.

Lineman Michael Story will be available for the Bulldogs for the first time this year following a two-game suspension. Story served his penalty following an arrest last month for a misdemeanor charge of aggravated cruelty to a dog.

Moorhead stated on Wednesday that in addition to Story’s two-game suspension, he has also been required to do “community service and some other things.”

Scouting the Ragin’ Cajuns

Despite the fact Mississippi State is a heavy favorite in its Saturday night game in which the Bulldogs host Louisiana, Moorhead insisted Wednesday that the Ragin’ Cajuns will be a challenging opponent. Louisiana had a bye week following an opening-week 49-17 win over Grambling. Moorhead said the Ragin’ Cajuns extra week of preparation more makes them dangerous.

“(First year Louisiana head coach Billy Napier) has a very strong history as a coordinator at Arizona State,” Moorhead said. “He’s worked at Clemson. He’s worked at Alabama in the SEC. (Louisiana) runs a spread offense and does a good job dispersing the ball around to their playmakers. They stretch the field horizontally and vertically. Defensively, they play a multiple 3-4 and give us some three-and-four-down looks with a bunch of different coverages behind it, then they have a couple of dynamic kids in the return game. The challenge (for us in evaluating Louisiana) is only having one game to go off of. That was their opener against Grambling. They had a bye week and an extra week to prepare, so it’s a challenge and we look forward to hitting the field on Saturday.”

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