Chemistry is needed, left guard Vadal Alexander said.
Through three games, LSU’s offensive line hasn’t quite lived up to its preseason hype. The veteran, experienced unit has struggled at times to create holes and block pass-rushers, especially in the first half of games.
What’s the deal?
“Just better chemistry as a whole, among other things. Just getting chemistry,” Alexander said. “I think that’s one of the big things.”
The line returned four starters, including senior left tackle La’el Collins, and was expected to be the strength of the 2014 squad. The first three weeks have been up and down.
The linemen may have had their worst stretch during the first half of Saturday’s 31-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Alexander had about five missed blocks in the half. Center Elliott Porter, seeing his first action of the season, finished with four missed blocks and a hold, and he stepped on quarterback Anthony Jennings’ foot at one point.
“I have a higher expectation of myself, and I will play better this week,” Porter said Monday. “I’ll play more like myself.”
The line had at least four missed blocks in pass protection, too.
LSU continues to rotate Evan Washington at right and left guard. He played right tackle, too, when Jerald Hawkins briefly went down with a knee injury.
Porter is slated to start at center again Saturday, coach Les Miles said during his weekly news conference Monday. Porter was suspended for the first two games of the season for summer job pay issues.
Ethan Pocic had started in his place. Pocic suffered a sprained ankle against Sam Houston State and didn’t play against Louisiana-Monroe. Miles said Pocic will return this week, but it’s unclear where he’ll play.
LSU’s once-simmering quarterback competition between Jennings and Brandon Harris seems to have cooled.
Harris, a freshman from Bossier City, has entered the past two games with LSU up at least four touchdowns. And that’s, apparently, how it will stay.
“I would think that we would play Brandon Harris in a like fashion as we have in the last three (games),” Miles said Monday.
In a season-opening win over Wisconsin, Harris entered the game on the eighth drive. There seemed to be some confusion during his three plays, and a timeout had to be called before a failed third down. He played just those three snaps and never saw the field again.
“We’re not going to suppose if things don’t go well,” Miles said when asked whether a struggling Jennings would be pulled for Harris on Saturday. “We would anticipate that we have two quality quarterbacks and guys that can handle their business, whatever we suggest they play and what role they need to take.”
LBs to return
Linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis are expected to start against Mississippi State, Miles said.
The two missed Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe. Alexander suffered a stinger in his shoulder against Wisconsin and played just three series in the game against Sam Houston State. Louis’ injury is not known.
Both dressed out Saturday but never went on the field. The Tigers managed their second straight shutout with backups Duke Riley and Deion Jones starting.
Another night kick
LSU’s game against New Mexico State on Sept. 27 will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and be broadcast on SEC Network, the Southeastern Conference announced Monday.
That announcement means the Tigers will play four straight night games to start their home slate at newly expanded Tiger Stadium.
No. 8 LSU (3-0) hosted Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe in night kicks the past two weeks. The Tigers open SEC play this Saturday with a 6 p.m. kickoff against Mississippi State (3-0).
LSU’s defense didn’t only record its first back-to-back shutout since 1985 on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. It didn’t give up a play of 13 yards or more in a single game for the first time in 43 years.
ULM quarterback Pete Thomas hit receiver Kenzee Jackson for a 12-yard completion with less than eight minutes left in Saturday’s game, the longest play from scrimmage for the Warhawks. LSU hadn’t suffocated a team like that since 1971, when Mississippi State ran a long play of 12 yards in a 28-3 LSU win.