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Offensive linemen Austin Deculus (76, left) is a contender on LSU's line, despite his age.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

The night before LSU upset Florida on its home turf, Austin Deculus needed someone to talk to.

The freshman offensive lineman hadn’t been playing much despite being a four-star recruit who came to Baton Rouge as the No. 10 lineman in the country.

But through LSU's first five games, Deculus only saw limited time with the field goal unit.

In his disappointment, Deculus turned to someone he knew who went through the same frustrations — Will Clapp.

Clapp is now the anchor of LSU’s offensive line, but the senior rode the bench for much of his freshman season.

He knew what Deculus was going through.

Clapp thought back to the advice and guidance former players such as Vidal Alexander and Ethan Pocic gave him when he was in the same situation.

“I was like, ‘Hey man, you never know when you’re time is coming,’” Clapp said.

The next day, Deculus played three quarters in what is undoubtedly LSU's biggest win of the season to date.

Deculus’ debut of live, meaningful reps is nothing shocking for an LSU program that has been forced to look to freshman offensive linemen multiple times this season.

It seems like each week is another round of firsts for the rookies.

In Week 1, Saahdiq Charles became the first true freshman to start a season opener for the Tigers since at least World War II.

Then, against Troy, Charles and Ed Ingram became the first freshman duo to start a game on the offensive line since at least 1985, according to LSU.

The school was unsure when, if ever, LSU last started three freshmen offensive linemen, but it's possible that's the case this weekend against Auburn.

With tackles Toby Weathersby and K.J. Malone still listed as questionable after suffering injuries against Florida, Deculus could get all the playing time he asked for last week.

Weathersby has battled what coach Ed Orgeron said is “multiple injuries” the past few weeks, missing the Troy game two weeks ago and leaving in the second quarter against Florida. Malone hurt his left knee on the Tigers’ third offensive play Saturday but returned for the final two drives of the game.

Neither was seen during the periods of practice open to the media this week.

“We have to stay positive,” Orgeron said. “It's the next-man-up theory. We don't say, ‘Hey, you, freshman. You are going in there.' Obviously we have a saying that we put 11 men on the field and we fight like the LSU Tigers, and that's what we're going to do.”


Orgeron praised the young linemen after Saturday’s game, saying they didn’t blink when the pressure was on.

In the past, Clapp has said the newcomers might be freshmen but they can't make the typical freshmen mistakes.

That demand hasn't entirely held up; they've made many errors on par with their experience level, but they've gotten better nonetheless.

The offensive line as a whole has dramatically improved over the past few weeks, going from allowing 14 quarterback hurries against Syracuse to only five against Troy. Florida was officially credited with two hurries.

“One thing I talked to (offensive line coach Jeff Grimes) about and one thing I said at the beginning: They can handle the physicality of the SEC, and it wasn't that they got overpowered,” Orgeron said. “They can handle their one-on-ones.
 It's more or less alignment assignment. When things are moving fast, they may make a couple of mistakes, which is, you can understand for a freshman.”

Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.