Running out of options on offense
Tigers might only have 2 of 5 starting OL against Ole Miss
Pass the spit and baling wire.
LSU seems to be running out of options in the offensive line.
But it turns out it’s still mathematically possible to start five different five-man combinations in the first five weeks of the season, which is what the No. 5-ranked Tigers will be doing Saturday when they host Ole Miss in the fifth game of the season.
Since taking over as interim head coach two years ago, head coach Ed Orgeron has made it his priority to upgrade both the quality and depth along both lines of scrimmage.
And this is why.
Senior guard Garrett Brumfield, the unquestioned leader of the group, was the latest go go down in the first half of the Louisiana Tech game last Saturday.
He won’t be ready this week, Orgeron said.
“We don’t know when Garrett will be back,” Orgeron said Monday, sounding like he may well be out for more than just this week. “I don’t know that yet.”
Brumfield’s spot will be taken by true freshman Chasen Hines, who took over Saturday after also seeing emergency duty — his college debut — against Auburn.
It could also leave the Tigers this week with only two of the original five starters who began the season up front in the opener against Miami.
Starting left tackle Saahdiq Charles, probably the Tigers’ best offensive lineman, was suspended for the Southeastern Louisiana game, returned for Auburn but was injured there and did not dress out against Louisiana Tech.
“Saahdiq is questionable,” Orgeron said about this week. “Hopefully we get him back, but I’m not sure.”
Brandon Traore has subbed for Charles in the other two games he missed.
That could leave LSU starting one true freshman (Hines), two sophomores (center Lloyd Cushenberry and right tackle Austin Deculus) and two junior college transfers in their first year as a Tiger (right guard Damien Lewis and Traore).
Preseason starter at right tackle Adrian Magee hasn’t played since going down in the Miami opener, and Orgeron does not expect him back this week, either.
For Southeastern Louisiana, Traore started for Magee at right tackle, with Duculus taking over for Charles on the left side.
Traore struggled in that game while coaches were pleased with Duculus on the left side. He moved to the right side in place of Magee for the Auburn game.
Meanwhile, Traore has fared bettter on the left side when forced into action with Charles’ injuries.
Hines has been a fairly pleasant surprise at the guard spot, according to Orgeron.
“Chasen has been a plus,” Orgeron said. “He’s played well. He’s probably going to have to start for us this week. We think he’s done a good job. He’s big and physical. He’s handled the mental task so far.”
He will often be called on to block Ole Miss’ best defensive lineman, Benito Jones, a player Orgeron recruited.
There aren’t many other options.
The only available backup with any real experience for this week could be sophomore Donavaughn Campbell.
Orgeron is high on freshman Dare Rosenthall’s future. But the 6-8, 333-pounder only moved from defense to offense a few weeks ago.
“He’s not ready,” Orgeron said. “I wish he was. I wish we could have moved him a lot sooner and he might be ready. But he’s not ready right now.
“Hopefully we will be getting some of those injured guys back very soon.”