LSU football enters 2016 loaded with returning starters and star players, but Tigers still have holes to fill _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU fullback John David Moore (44) and offensive lineman Maea Teuhema (75) help clear a path for running back Leonard Fournette, middle, in the first half of the LSU-Auburn football game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 in Baton Rouge.

LSU offensive tackle Maea Teuhema will begin the season as a backup to K.J. Malone and Toby Weathersby at left and right tackle, LSU's Week 1 depth chart, released Monday, indicated.

Teuhema, a starter at left guard last season, missed at least the first week of preseason camp after spraining his ankle late in the summer. Coach Les Miles indicated that missed time led to the resurgence of Malone and Weathersby.

Teuhema is not expected to rotate between those two spots during the game, Miles suggested.

"It's allowed guys like K.J. Malone to get better,” Miles said. “He's really improved.”

Teuhema, who started 11 of 12 games last season at left guard, moved to tackle in the spring after the departures of Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander. He practiced with the No. 1 group at left tackle in the spring.

Miles said Teuhema rotated with Malone and Weathersby during a scrimmage at Tiger Stadium last Tuesday. On Monday, the coach indicated that Malone, Teuhema and Weathersby probably wouldn't rotate during the game, but that Teuhema was "extremely healthy."

"I don't know that. I think all three could play, but I don't know that," Miles said when asked about a rotation.

Teuhema could play guard, Miles said, but senior right guard Josh Boutte “is playing really well, and we like (junior left guard) Will (Clapp)." Boutte beat out Garrett Brumfield for the starting spot opposite Clapp. Clapp started at left guard in last year’s season opener against Mississippi State before moving to right guard at halftime, where he remained for the rest of the season.

“Obviously, he wasn’t listed on the depth chart as the starter, but he’s still going to play a lot of ball,” Clapp said of Teuhema. “We’re still going to rely on him a lot. He’s a big part of the offense. I don’t really think he’s worried about it.”

Clapp acknowledged ankle sprains can be difficult to recover from because of the strength a lineman to handle blitzing defenders.

“It’s definitely rough,” Clapp said. “Running backs, when they sprain an ankle, it’s hard for them to cut. Offensive line, it’s hard to generate power and stop bull rushes, stuff like that. That stuff comes with time and building up strength that you used to have.”

Freshman Divinity could start

If Michael Divinity starts against Wisconsin on Saturday, he'd be just the fourth true freshman starter in the Miles era. 

Divinity, playing the “F” linebacker role, could join Kevin Toliver in 2015, Trey Quinn in 2014 and Jalen Mills in 2012 as true freshman starters. The John Ehret product was listed as the starter at the F-outside linebacker spot opposite sophomore Arden Key.

Divinity enrolled at LSU in January and stepped into a starting spot after senior Corey Thompson fractured his ankle during the first week of preseason camp.

“Michael Divinity is a big, strong, naturally gifted guy that can flat run and play hard. He's really a conscientious guy,” Miles said. “He learns assignments very well and, again, works hard to maintain his abilities and improve. So we would expect him to see a lot of football.”

Added Clapp: “Obviously, stepping in as a freshman is rough, but Mike’s got great athleticism, and that’s what allows him to do what he does with the ones right now. The big thing for him is going to be how he’s able to adapt to big games situations. But in the scrimmages, he’s looked great, and we’re excited about how he’ll play Saturday.”

Lagniappe

Junior Cameron Gamble was listed as the No. 1 kickoff specialist. Last week, starting place-kicker Colby Delahoussaye said Gamble was suffering from muscle tightness during an Aug. 29 scrimmage. But Gamble returned to practice the following week, Delahoussaye said, and his condition was improving. … Freshman Lindsey Scott and sophomore Justin McMillan are listed as co-No. 3 quarterback behind starter Brandon Harris and backup Danny Etling. … Miles said he and his staff watched Wisconsin’s 2015 opener against Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which the Crimson Tide won 35-17, but he didn’t seem to find it useful to the Tigers’ scouting report. “I don't know that there's a lot that we picked up there,” Miles said. “I think we're kind of two different teams that way but, yeah, we watched.” ... Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst named Bart Houston his starting quarterback last week, beating out freshman Alex Hornibrook, but Miles is expecting two quarterbacks to play. “They have another quarterback, certainly a quality guy that competes in that spot,” Miles said. “We would not be surprised if both quarterbacks played.”

Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.