Murky lineup: Tigers cobble together starters
HOUSTON — LSU committed to a starting lineup on paper for the TaxAct Texas Bowl on Sunday.
But the release didn’t clear much up.
If anything the Tigers’ situation for Tuesday’s 8 p.m. kickoff got murkier with a host of additional players not listed on the depth chart and apparently not available for the game.
Freshman Garrett Nussmeier is listed to make his first start at quarterback after Max Johnson transferred to Texas A&M, but interim head coach Brad Davis would not comment on how the NCAA has ruled in LSU request to give him a waiver to keep his redshirt season intact despite what would be a fifth game.
Nussmeier has said he wants to redshirt.
“You’ll have to ask him,” Davis said.
Nussmeier was not made available for comment Sunday.
Precious few Tigers are available for anything.
By most estimates, the Tigers will have roughly 40 scholarship players available for the 8 p.m. kickoff against Kansas State.
Center Liam Shanahan, the rare Tiger who’ll start every game this season, said he hadn’t checked the new depth chart for any surprises.
“But I can tell by looking around the room that we’re running a little thin,” he said.
Program sales should be brisk to figure out the difference between the Tigers who had to win their final two games to get bowl eligible and what’s left of them to play for their reward.
“When opportunities come up, whatever the reason may be, it’s a next-man-up mentality,” Davis said. “There’s a bunch of kids that are eager and hungry to go out there and perform.”
The MIA’s run the gamut and it was previously known LSU would be without leading rusher Tyrion Davis-Price (opt out to prepare for NFL draft), leading receiver Kayshon Boutte (mid-season injury), passer Johnson (transfer portal) and tackler Damone Clark (opt out).
But at least five additional starters presumed to be available weren’t listed on the depth chart, key cogs such as defensive end Glenn Logan, linebacker Micah Baskerville and cornerbacks Cordelle Flott, Cameron Lewis and Dwight McGlothern.
Davis gave no specifics.
“There’s a lot of things,” he said. “Look at the roster and what we’ve battled. You start with COVID. There’s a piece of that. You’ve got injuries, you’ve got opt-outs.
“You’ve got perhaps some disciplinary issues, things like that.”
Davis suggested that new head coach Brian Kelly may have had a hand in some of the decisions.
“He and I have collaborated,” Davis said.
Bottom line, if the Tigers follow the depth chart LSU will start eight freshmen in the 22 positions against a Kansas State team with 12 senior starters.
Six Tigers on defense will be making their first career starts. The offense will have two more first-timers.
The exception is the offensive line, which was Davis’ position group before he took over as interim head coach for the bowl.
After using 11 different offensive line combinations in the 12 regular season games, it will be intact for the Wildcats.
The rest will have to be patched together.
“All the guys that maybe hadn’t had playing time all year are going to get their chance,” Shanahan said. “I’m happy for them. They’ve been busting their (butt) since August.”
LSU projected starting lineup for Texas Bowl
LISTED STARTER EXPLANATION
WR Brian Thomas (6-5/198) Fr. Started 9 games
WR Jaray Jenkins (6-3/198) Jr. Started after others were injured
WR Trey Palmer (6-1/187) Jr. Got 2nd start in last regular season game vs. Texas A&M
LT Cam Wire (6-6/311) Jr. Anthony Bradford had most starts; not available
LG Ed Ingram (6-4/320) Sr. Started all but one game
C Liam Shanahan (6-3/349) Sr. Only OL to start every game
RG Chasen Hines (6-3/360) Sr. First start since Alabama game
RT Austin Deculus (6-7/325) Sr. Started all but one game
TE Jack Bech (6-2/207) Fr. Leading available receiver
QB Garrett Nussmeier (6-1/190) Fr. Would have to burn redshirt; starter Max Johnson transferred to Texas A&M
RB Corey Kiner (5-10/213) Fr. Usual starter and leading rusher Ty Davis-Price opted out
PK Cade York (6-1/198) So. No change
LISTED STARTER EXPLANATION
DE B.J. Olijulari (6-3/244) So. Started all but one game
DT Maason Smith (6-6/292) Fr. Neil Farrell started every game but opted out for draft
DT Jaquelin Roy (6-4/297) So. 1st start; no explanation where Glenn Logan is
DE Soni Fonua (6-4/258) Sr. Started last 4 games at DT; DE was revolving door
LB Mike Jones (6-2/234) So. 1st start; no explanation why starter Micah Baskerville not listed
LB Greg Penn (6-2/221) Fr. 1st start after leading tackler Damone Clark opted out
NK Pig Cage (5-11/198) Fr. 1st start; no explanation where Cordelle Flott not listed
CB Darren Evans (6-3/174) Sr. Stated last 4 games after Eli Ricks entered transfer portal
FS Jay Ward (6-1/180) Jr. Started 6 games including the last 4
SS Todd Harris (5-11/195) Sr. 1st start; no explanation why Cameron Lewis not listed
CB Damarius McGee (6-1/162) Fr. 1st start; no explanation why Dwight McGlothern not listed
P Avery Atkins (6-0/210) Sr. No change