A Nasty Attitude

J.C. Brignone

Football is obviously a physical sport. And nowhere is it more physical than on the line of scrimmage with eight to nine men, ranging in size from 250 pounds to over 300 pounds, pounding against each other every play of the game. Brute strength and correct technique go a long way to determine the winners and losers but attitude, more appropriately a nasty attitude, is also very important.

"The strength of this offensive line is that the attitude is starting to come around," said junior center J. C. Brignone, a 15-game starter. "Being a football player, you have to have that attitude, especially being an offensive lineman. And I think we are starting to understand what it means to be a nasty offensive line - guys are starting to finish, guys are starting to run to the ball, guys are getting back up ready to knock somebody's head in. And I think that has a lot to do with the attitude."

And that is exactly what offensive line coach John Hevesy wants according to sophomore starting guard Quentin Saulsberry.

"Things that he wants us to have is attitude, swagger and confidence in what we are doing," said Saulsberry, another 15-game starter. "As long as you have those three things, you have a good chance to be successful."

But it takes time to develop that nasty attitude. And according to Coach Hevesy, this offensive line is getting closer but is still not quite there.

"We have done what we have had to do but we have a long way to go," said Hevesy. "There has been improvement each week but I still think we are a ways away from where we need to be as a group. The five guys have to be right all the time. We can't have four out of five guys right."

And last year was a perfect example of what can happen when five guys are not on the same page every game, every play. Thirty-six sacks were given up last season. This season, there have been 3 sacks allowed in the first three games.

But Hevesy thinks even that small number is too many.

"Three sacks are three too many," he said.

Brignone has that same type attitude about the sacks.

"We don't want to be like we used to be - we want to be the best that we can be," said Brignone. "A sack here, a missed assignment there, that's not something we want to say oh, that's ok. That's what we said in the past - that's ok. What we want to do now is come out and play football and be the best that we can be - don't accept taking a sack or a loss on the ball. Let's go up there, be the best offensive line and go against the best defensive lines in the country. We are in the SEC and we have to play SEC-caliber football. We have to be big-time ballers."

And the players on the offensive line feel that Coach Hevesy is the one who will take them to that level.

"I appreciate all that Coach Hevesy has been doing, making sure that we are in the right place at the right time," said Saulsberry. "He says don't do it your way because your way might not work. Do it my way and you will be successful."

As far as determining success, some folks use numbers to determine it. And Coach Hevesy has a grading scale that determines whether his offensive linemen play at a successful level with a championship level being the highest grade you can attain. So far, this year's O-line has received mix results.

"We had one (championship grade) this past week, two the week before and two the week before that," said Hevesy.

Five players, three games add up to fifteen chances to be champions. And only a third of the time has this offensive line earned that result individually.

"I think we have had a lot of mistakes," said Brignone. "There are some things that we need to fix. But I think slowly but surely we are starting to pick things up and starting to jell as an offensive line."

The O-line will get a chance to show that they are jelling against the 7th ranked LSU Tigers beginning at 11:21 am Saturday morning at Davis Wade Stadium.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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