Numbers are significant in football, 89 is the number of starts the No. 14-ranked Mississippi State University offensive line have collectively. The bonds of the front five can often determine the outcome of the game.
Offensive line coach Marcus Johnson explained he tries to instill consistency in the players both in the classroom and in weekly practices.
"Empty the bucket day in and day out, give it everything you’ve got, whether that means in the classroom you staying locked in and focused," Johnson said. "Whether that means in individual drills you're working as hard as you can possibly work, from group work to team work, and just carry it throughout the course of practice."
Deion Calhoun, a senior offensive lineman from Pleasant Grove, Alabama, has started on the offensive line in 26 games. He explained the last game went well because of the team's physicality.
"I felt good about it, we played physical, but this is SEC week so we’ve got to amp it up because there’s going to be better talent on the field," Calhoun said. "I'm looking forward to us playing with physicality because that is what is going to win us this game."
Elgton Jenkins, a senior offensive lineman from Clarksdale, was named the SEC offensive lineman of the week last week and is on the Rimington Trophy watch list. He described the team environment and chemistry of the team this season.
"Playing with the guys behind me, beside me and the players on defense," Jenkins said. "I see them go out there playing to a championship standard, it helps me go out there, have fun."
Jenkins said he and his teammates keep each other accountable and are look to do the best they can to keep up the good work. The O-line has only given up six sacks in their first three games, two of which were in the most recent game against Louisiana Lafayette.
"We pride ourselves on moving people, knocking people off the ball," Jenkins said. "If I mess up, if one of them mess up, we hold each other to a higher standard."
Johnson said the players work hard and take things one step at a time in order to improve.
"We try to approach each and every day one at a time. The goal is to get better day by day; our guys are working hard to please coaches right now," Johnson said.
Jenkins said the team always plays to the best of their abilities, and they will continue to do this whether the opponent is an SEC team or not.
"The three games we did play, we just go out there, play to a championship standard. It doesn’t matter who we play, we just go out there and play as hard as we can," Jenkins said. "We’re going to do the same thing in SEC play, nothing changes."
MSU (3-0) will play the University of Kentucky (3-0) at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Kick off is at 6 p.m. Sept. 22, and ESPN2 will broadcast the Bulldog’s first SEC game of the season.