Nine of the 13 LSU players who did not travel to last week’s season opener dressed out Saturday for the Tigers' home opener against Chattanooga.
Wide receiver Dee Anderson, cornerback Kristian Fulton, defensive end Frank Herron, tight end Caleb Roddy and edge rusher Sci Martin were not spotted during warmups before the home opener, but a host of others returned for the Tigers after missing Game 1 against BYU, including starters Kevin Toliver at cornerback and Donnie Alexander at inside linebacker.
Coach Ed Orgeron said earlier this week that he expected to get “several” players back for Game 2 against Chattanooga. It’s not entirely clear why the 13 players did not travel to New Orleans with the team last week. Orgeron suggested last week that several were suspended, but he declined to reveal specifics about suspensions.
Three LSU players donned walking boots while on the sideline Saturday game, including defensive end Rashard Lawrence, edge rusher Andre Anthony and offensive lineman Donavaughn Campbell. Arden Key also remains sidelined as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Toliver and Alexander joined nine others who dressed out Saturday after missing last week's game: OLB Michael Divinity, F-B Bry’Kiethon Mouton, QB Justin McMillan, OL Adrian Magee, DE Deondre Clark and DB Xavier Lewis.
Anderson, Fulton, Roddy, Martin and Herron remain absent, and the reasons are murky.
Herron, expected to be a rotational player on the defensive line, could be out an extended period of time. On Monday, Orgeron said the fifth-year senior was "not cleared" to play and was on a "week-to-week" basis. Anderson has not practiced since camp began July 31, the coach said, citing an undisclosed injury.
Martin, a sophomore from New Orleans, returned to practice earlier this week after missing time in camp. His status is cloudy, as is that of Fulton and Roddy, a sophomore who served as the Tigers' second tight end in 2016 as a true freshman. Fulton has practiced with the team this August. He played sparingly as a true freshman last season at cornerback.
LSU football at Tiger Stadium — it's finally here. Follow live as the Tigers face off with UT-Chattanooga.
Orgeron delivered on his promise.
LSU’s kickoff team saw a wave of changes during Saturday’s home opener, including the kickoff specialist. Senior Cameron Gamble kicked off, booming his first kick to the back of the end zone in accomplishing what Orgeron wants. His second kick also went for a touchback.
Connor Culp had just one touchback in six kickoffs last week, prompting the coach to open up the kickoff competition this week. Gamble reclaimed a job he held on and off for the last two seasons.
Other changes on the kickoff team included the addition of Alexander and defensive back Xavier Lewis, two players who did not make the trip last week. Drake Davis, Eric Monroe and freshman Kary Vincent.
Culp kicked the extra point after LSU's third touchdown following a missed 40-yard field goal by Jack Gonsoulin.
Five-star QB visits
The No. 1 recruit in the nation was on campus Saturday, taking a trip down to the field just before the Tigers began warmups.
Five-star dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields has received 41 offers, according to 247sports.com, but selected LSU as one of his official campus visits. Listed at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds, the Kennesaw, Georgia, native originally committed to Penn State but chose to open up his recruitment in June.
Changing of the guard
A week after LSU started a true freshman on the offensive line in a season opener for the first time in the program's modern era, the Tigers decided to make a change.
On Saturday, they started a different true freshman. Ed Ingram began the Chattanooga game at right guard, replacing teammate Saahdiq Charles from last week. The two rotated throughout the season opener, just as Orgeron said they would. Despite making what was described as a few freshman mistakes, the two mostly received positive reviews from teammates and coaches.
Stevens sees early time
LSU didn’t wait long to play an 18th true freshman.
JaCoby Stevens, the highly rated safety-turned-receiver, played on LSU’s first possession, getting in as a slot receiver for the Tigers. He became the 18th true freshmen to play this season.
The program played 17 in the season opener, believed to be a school record and tied for the most in the nation. Fullback Tory Carter played later in the game as No. 19.
Stevens caught a pass 27-yard pass from quarterback Danny Etling early in the second quarter, his first touch as a Tiger.
Where there’s a Will
First-year LSU basketball coach Will Wade helped distribute rally towels to students entering Tiger Stadium a couple of hours before kickoff Saturday.
Wade, who got his first head coach job at Chattanooga in 2013 when he was just 30 years old, was briefly able to visit with Mocs’ basketball sports information director Jim Horten prior to the game. Wade coached two years there and had a 40-25 record before leaving for VCU, where he coached for two seasons before taking the LSU job on March 20.
TV crew change
With the time change then eventual cancelation of the Florida-Northern Colorado game, LSU-Chattanooga moved from the SEC Network’s alternate channel to the main channel. That also meant a change in TV crews.
New Orleans Pelicans play-by-play man Joel Meyers and former LSU great Brian Kinchen were initially scheduled to call the game. But when the Tigers and Mocs moved up to the big channel, ESPN instead sent the SEC Network’s prime-time crew of Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline reporter).
For Cubelic, a former Auburn player, it was his first game in Tiger Stadium since 1999.
Return of the Tigers
LSU recognized a group of former players prior to Saturday’s home opener, including recent athletes Kendall Beckwith and Davon Godchaux. Beckwith is now a linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Godchaux is a defensive tackle with the Miami Dolphins. The Bucs-Dolphins game in Miami scheduled for Sunday was postponed until November because of Hurricane Irma.
Captains were Chrsitian LaCouture, Greg Gilmore, Danny Etling and KJ Malone. … Temperature at kickoff was 85 degrees with 41 percent humidity. ... Derrick Dillon and Drake Davis were in on the first snap for LSU as the Tigers' two receivers.