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Arden Key might not be LSU's starting edge rusher against BYU.

advocate file photo by Travis Spradling < p>

DEFENSIVE LINE

Returning starters (3): DE Christian LaCouture, NT Greg Gilmore, DE Arden Key

Starters lost (2): DE Davon Godchaux, DE Lewis Neal

Depth chart

DE

  • Rashard Lawrence, So.
  • Frank Herron, RSr.
  • Justin Thomas, Fr.
+2 
Greg Gilmore

Greg Gilmore is set to start for a second straight season at nose tackle.

NT

  • Greg Gilmore, RSr.
  • Ed Alexander, So.
  • Christian LaCouture, RSr.

DE

  • Christian LaCouture, RSr. -OR-
  • Frank Herron, RSr.
  • Neil Farrell, Fr.
  • Deondre Clark, Sr.

B-OLB

  • Arden Key, Jr.*
  • Ray Thornton, RFr. -OR-
  • K'Lavon Chaisson, Fr.
  • Andre Anthony, RFr.
  • Sci Martin, So.
*Been limited with injury

Newcomer to watch

K’Lavon Chaisson, a Houston product, was the fourth-best weakside defensive end in the recruiting class. He impressed coaches during summer work and in the early part of preseason camp. Coach Ed Orgeron even suggested Chaisson and a healthy Arden Key could be on the field this year at the same time in pass-rushing packages.

Number to know: 92

Christian LaCouture, Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron have combined to play in a whopping 92 games. The three are fifth-year seniors who will be fighting to prove to NFL scouts this season that they’re worthy of a draft pick.

One word: Attacking

LSU’s defense is morphing into more of a natural 3-4 scheme. The Tigers have more hybrid edge-rushing players (Chaisson, Key, Thornton, Anthony) than traditional D-linemen. Expect a faster and more attacking defense.


LINEBACKER

Returning starters: None

Starters lost (3): ILB Kendell Beckwith, ILB Duke Riley, OLB Tashawn Bower

Depth

F-OLB

  • Corey Thompson, RSr.* -OR-
  • Ray Thornton, RFr.
  • Michael Divinity, So.
  • Devin Voorhies, Sr.
  • M.J. Patterson, RFr.
*Been limited with injury

ILB (Mack)

  • Donnie Alexander, Sr. 
  • Jacob Phillips, Fr. -OR-
  • Tyler Taylor, Fr. 

ILB (Rover)

  • Devin White, So.
  • Patrick Queen, Fr. -OR-
  • Jonathan Rucker, RSr.*
*walk-on

Newcomers to watch

Jacob Phillips, Tyler Taylor and Patrick Queen arrived this summer to immediately help with depth and push the presumed starters, Donnie Alexander and Devin White. Phillips and Taylor were ranked in the top 10 among inside linebackers in the 2017 recruiting class, and Queen is a local product from Livonia.

Number to know: 6

That’s the number of years Corey Thompson has spent at LSU. The injury-plagued sixth-year senior is expected to serve as the Tigers’ F-outside linebacker, especially in certain packages. The F-OLB is a rotating position among Thompson, Ray Thornton and Michael Divinity. 

One word: Depth

The depth at inside linebacker is a serious issue. In fact, the Tigers practiced with just two scholarship inside linebackers during the spring. Behind Donnie Alexander and Devin White, there’s a drop-off to the three freshmen and walk-ons.


SECONDARY

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LSU defensive back John Battle is expected to start at safety. 

Returning starters (2): S John Battle, CB Donte Jackson

Starters lost (3): S Jamal Adams, CB Tre’Davious White, NB Dwayne Thomas

Depth chart

CB

  • Kevin Toliver, Jr.
  • Greedy Williams, RFr.
  • Kristian Fulton, So.

CB

  • Donte Jackson, Jr.
  • Kary Vincent, Fr.
  • Jontre Kirklin, Fr.

NB

  • Kary Vincent, Fr.
  • Xavier Lewis, RSo.

FS

  • Grant Delpit, Fr. -OR-
  • Ed Paris, Sr.
  • Cam Lewis, RFr.

SS

  • John Battle, Sr.
  • Eric Monroe, RFr.
  • Todd Harris, Fr.

Newcomers to watch

Grant Delpit enrolled in January and participated in spring practice, making a big enough splash that he started with the first string in the spring game. He is challenging Ed Paris for the starting spot opposite John Battle. Plaquemine High product Todd Harris is in the mix there, too, and Kary Vincent is the leader at nickelback.

Number to know: 2

The Tigers must replace two first-round NFL draft picks. Jamal Adams was selected sixth overall in April’s draft by the Jets, and Tre’Davious White was picked by the Bills at No. 27. They combined for 63 starts in seven years at LSU.

One word: Superior

LSU’s “DBU” mantra is not just braggadocio. The Tigers have sent 11 defensive backs to the NFL over the past six drafts. The lineage of talented DBs isn’t ending anytime soon, either. Corey Raymond’s newest class is one of his best.


PLACE-KICKER

Returning starters: None

Starters lost (1): Colby Delahoussaye

Depth chart

  • Connor Culp, RFr. -OR-
  • Jack Gonsoulin, So.

Number to know: 74.4

LSU's last two starting field goal kickers have converted on nearly 75 percent of their kicks. Trent Domingue and Colby Delahoussaye made 35 of 47 attempts in 2014-16.

One word: Inexperience

Culp, a redshirt freshman, and Gonsoulin, a walk-on sophomore, combine for zero kick attempts in a college football game. The two were in a tight battle in camp.


PUNTER

Returning starters (1): Josh Growden

Starters lost: None

Depth chart

  • Josh Growden, RFr.
  • Zack Von Rosenberg, RFr.

Number to know: 56

That's Growden's national last season in punting. He averaged 41.35 yards a boot. A whopping 22 of his 57 punts were downed inside the 20.

One word: Australian

For a seventh straight season, the Tigers starting punter will be from the Outback. Growden, in his second year as a starter, follows Jamie Keehn (2013-15) and Brad Wing (2011-12).


KICK/PUNT RETURNER

Returning starters (1): KR Derrius Guice

Starters lost (1): PR Tre'Davious White

Depth chart

  • Drake Davis
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Jontre Kirklin
  • Donte Jackson
  • Derrick Dillon

Number to know: 23.4

Jackson's kickoff return average last season on seven returns would have ranked in the top 45 nationally, but coaches are hesitant to use such an important starter back there.

One word: Fast

There is no shortage of speed on this list. Jackson is a track standout, and Davis is a former soccer player with some serious wheels. Dillon and Edwards-Helaire have been the surprises of camp.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.