Despite struggles, Miles isn’t ready to shake up offensive line yet

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

Never 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.”