STARKVILLE — Less than 36 hours before his team took the field for its season opener against the University of Memphis, Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen wasn”t worried about who would start for the Bulldogs at left tackle.
That was the impression the Bulldogs” third-year leader tried to give Wednesday morning in his Southeastern Conference media teleconference.
“We feel pretty good about the competition there,” Mullen said. “I know we have a good idea of who is going to start.”
Senior James Carmon is the likely candidate to start at left tackle when MSU opens its season at 7 tonight (SportSouth) at the Liberty Bowl. The former defensive tackle effectively used the spring drills and preseason camp to make the transition. Carmon, a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer, also lost more than 50 pounds since being listed as high as 360 when he was a backup defensive tackle last season.
Carmon said last month that picking up the mental aspect of pass blocking was his biggest challenge, not the physical aspects of blocking.
“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 (running game coordinator/offensive line coach John) Hevesy cussing me out, but that”s how I”ll learn and get better.”
Sophomore Blaine Clausell spent last season as the backup for starter and eventual first round NFL draft pick Derek Sherrod. However, the three-star prospect has said repeatedly he”s not going to try and replicate Sherrod”s four-year career in Starkville.
“I can only be the best player I can be,” Clausell said. “As far as filling his shoes, it”s not in my mind because I can only play my game and play to my strengths.”
Mullen realizes having depth up front is crucial even after having a relatively healthy 2010 season on the offensive line. Center J.C. Brignone missed two games with an injury.
“Everybody worries about who starts, but that”s never been my concern,” Mullen said. “We need two guys. You”re a play away from either of them being a starter.”
MSU still searching for non-conference game for 2012
Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said Tuesday that MSU is still searching to fill the 2012 football schedule with one final home game.
The Bulldogs are short one non-conference game after Louisiana Tech paid the MSU athletic department $300,000 in the spring to buy its way out of the scheduled game in Starkville.
Stricklin said he has talked with “three or four schools” about a non-conference game at Davis Wade Stadium but declined to name the schools.
“Getting the date we had for this game to meet the openings for other schools has been challenging with a short amount of notice,” Stricklin said. “We knew it would be.”
Stricklin said it”s his preference to schedule a Football Bowl Subdivision school (formerly referred to as Division I-A), but he left open the possibility of scheduling a second school from the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA).
MSU”s current non-conference slate for 2012 includes home games against Jackson State and South Alabama and a game at Troy.
Fans can watch MSU-Memphis on Davis Wade jumbotron
MSU fans in the Starkville area can watch the season opening contest in Memphis at Davis Wade Stadium.
School officials announced the stadium gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and fans are encouraged to watch the game on the video screen free of charge. No food or drink will be allowed to be brought in Davis Wade Stadium, but concession stands will be open.