The three LSU players who missed last week’s game as a “coach’s decision” will all be back this week when the Tigers travel to play at Vanderbilt.
But sometimes it’s out of head coach Ed Orgeron’s hands.
So the No. 4-ranked Tigers will go into their SEC opener still missing at least three and probably four defensive starters.
Safety Todd Harris is done for the season after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter of the 65-14 win over Northwestern, while defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan are out for at least another week.
Orgeron doesn’t feel much better about his best pass-rushing threat, linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson.
Harris was the victim of a noncontact injury that Orgeron called “an unfortunate accident. He just landed on the ground wrong.”
Harris wasn’t technically a starter, but the Tigers more often than not play three safeties in the secondary, with Harris in the game.
“JaCoby Stevens can play back there,” Orgeron said of another experienced replacement. “We have to wait and see how the week goes to see who else can fit back there.”
Three other starters, linebacker Michael Divinity, wideout Ja’Marr Chase and tight end Thaddeus Moss, will be back this week after sitting out the Northwestern game for undisclosed but non-injury related reasons.
Orgeron isn’t sure when Lawrence and Logan will be back.
“Not this week for sure, I don’t think,” he said.
After this week’s game, the Tigers have their first of two open dates next week.
Breiden Fehoko and Neil Farrell are experienced in taking the defensive end spots, but it does leave the Tigers thin there.
Orgeron didn’t completely rule out Chaisson, who’s a key to LSU’s pass rush, but he did not practice Monday.
“We’ve got to get some guys healthy,” Orgeron said. “We’ve got to get K’Lavon healthy.
“He’s questionable. If he is ready to play we’re going to play him (but) he’s questionable.”
SAD TO HEAR IT: LSU’s injuries weren’t the hottest topic in Louisiana and Orgeron said he felt bad about Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees’ thumb injury.
“I felt bad,” he said. “Felt bad for him, his family and the state of Louisiana because I know how much he means to all of us ... the quarterback is the man — especially when’s he a great one.”
TRUE TO HIS WORD: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow raised some eyebrows and picked up a lot of doubters over the summer when he predicted this offense “could score 40, 50, 60 points per game.” In the first three games the Tigers have scored 55 against Georgia Southern, 45 against Texas and 65 against Northwestern.
Orgeron said it hasn’t gone unnoticed on the recruiting trail.
He described how when he texts recruits, especially skill players, they’re calling him back almost before he gets the text sent.
“There’s high interest,” he said. “Being on ESPN Game Day, being on a national TV game like (Texas). and having a quarterback doing what he’s doing, there’s high interest around the country in our offense and coming to play for the Tigers.
“There was always interest, but now that we’re playing even greater offense, there’s even higher interest.”
SPREAD THE WEALTH: Just three games into the season, 19 different players have caught passes for the Tigers. That’s already a school record for the most in one season.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Derek Stingley is averaging 14.6 yards per punt return, but fellow freshman Trey Palmer stole the show Saturday when he took one 54 yards for a touchdown, the first time he touched the ball in college.
The Tigers’ 171 yards in punt returns this year is already more than they got all of last season, which was a rare year when they didn’t get much out of the return game.
“He has vision,” Orgeron said of Stingley. “He has confidence. He’s able to see the whole field. We told him, Derek, wherever you see green grass, go. It’s not like you’ve got to go left or right ... let him find the green grass and go make plays.”