Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier causes LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger to fumble during the first half Sept. 22. Auburn recovered the fumble. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 10:59 PMNever mind that left tackle Chris Faulk was a preseason All-American.
LSU was not supposed to miss him when he was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in practice the week after the season opener.
Too much depth. Or maybe it was hubris. Or just wishful thinking.
But it appears the Tigers do, in fact, miss the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder who was also projected to be a first-round draft pick if he should choose to leave school early next spring.
The offensive line as a whole was projected to be one of the real strengths of the team, and LSU is second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing. But pressure on blossoming quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been a recurring theme through four games, perhaps slowing down his potential.
“Any time somebody gets in our backfield we want to address it,” head coach Les Miles said. “I think we can fix it.”
Some of it is Mettenberger’s inexperience in setting up proper protections and the pocket presence to get rid of the ball more quickly when pressure is looming.
But Faulk’s replacement, Josh Dworaczyk, has also admittedly struggled at times.
As a sixth-year senior, Dworaczyk is the most experienced player on the entire roster, but he missed all of last season with his own injury. He started for two years before that — and was arguably the Tigers’ best offensive lineman in 2010 — but that was while playing guard.
Left tackle can be a different animal, as Dworaczyk found out Saturday going up against Auburn’s lightning-quick All-SEC defensive end Corey Lemonier.
Lemonier had both of Auburn’s sacks, including the forced fumble after a hit on Mettenberger that set up the War Eagles’ lone touchdown.
All told Mettenberger was hurried seven times against Auburn.
Miles said only one of the sacks could be traced to Dworaczyk. The other was a miscommunication between Mettenberger and freshman running back Jeremy Hill, who should have stayed in to help with Lemonier.
But the sacks are only part of the story. After completing six of his first seven passes in the first quarter, Mettenberger was under duress much of the rest of the game and was 9 of 20 over the final three quarters. LSU even started rolling him out to buy more time in the second half, which seemed to affect his accuracy.
All told, he was hurried seven times.
“Personally, for me it came down to some technique things,” Dworaczyk said. “Some things I’ve got to get better at, some habits I’ve got to get instilled for being at tackle.
“Just some footwork, turning my shoulder a little bit too early on one of those and (it) gave them the edge.”
Dworaczyk said he planned to get in some extra work this week going against LSU’s quicksilver defensive end Barkevious “Keke” Mingo.
LSU has some other options. The most logical would seem to have sophomore left guard La’el Collins switch spots with Dworaczyk. Collins was considered the nation’s top high school offensive lineman in some circles two years ago and probably has better feet and more athleticism than Dworaczyk.
But Miles said he isn’t ready to shake up the front line just yet.
“I like the lineup,” he said. “We’re going to try to improve it the way it is. I think we have the potential to be very good.”
Miles did not rule out some changes in the future. But he seemed to be saying it was worth a try to have just one, Dworaczyk, somewhat out of position than to have multiple players out of position to patch it together.
Collins, for instance, played left tackle in high school.
“There’s no real aversion to (Collins playing tackle),” Miles said. “We just think we have a real good starting lineup as it is. We want him (Collins) to get comfortable there (at guard) What he’s doing there is good for us.
“We think Josh will be fine. If there’s a point in time that there needs to be a move, Collins can do the job (at tackle). But we like him where he’s at now.
“I kind of like where we’re at and we’ll see if we can make this work.”
Posted By: Randy Smith On: 9/27/2012
Les Miles is just acting in his atypical, unrelenting, stubborn self. How and why he cant see switching the less athletic and nimble Dworacyck is just bafooning. If Collins played left tackle in high school, and Dworacyck was/is a very good left guard the switch seems logical. But who says we are dealing with logic from a guy who used the same game plan against Bama in the BCS game as he did from round 1 without suspecting that his opponent would surely have watched some of the film, and adjusted. But that is just me. Mett's receivers have not helped him out either, and do appear NOT to be the "Fab Five" or four or three or whatever. They miss Reuben Randle and or a player at wideout who is 6'3 or 6'4 and can strectch the field. So, if Miles wants to continue leaving Dworacyck in there then he may as well get Rivers ready or Bolden or whoever.