Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday or Wednesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football and teams. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.
I’m not sure I’d refer to the O-line as lacking experience. First off, good timing with this question. Our O-line Position Preview feature ran in Wednesday’s Advocate. Here it is.
Secondly, back to that experience thing: RT Vadal Alexander, LT Jerald Hawkins and LG Ethan Pocic have a combined 73 starts. That’s a lot and a load of experience. All three players have at least one full year as a starter on their resume, and Alexander has three. Again, that’s a good chunk of experience.
The two new guys on the line don’t have experience, and maybe that’s what you were referring to in your question. Center Will Clapp is just a redshirt freshman, and RG Josh Boutte has never started a game in his two previous seasons with the Tigers.
To get to the bottom of things, Alexander says this group is the best O-line LSU has had in his four years with the program. And there’s a good chance he’s right. The group is big, strong and has three veterans at three key spots. The biggest questions remain with the tackles, though. Can Jerald Hawkins perform as well, or close to it, as La’el Collins, and can Alexander make a good transition from guard to tackle?
This is a great question. Most major colleges rotate their defensive linemen at a pretty good rate, but LSU didn’t do much of that last year. And that’s probably because the Tigers’ depth issues in 2014.
For instance, DT Christian LaCouture said he played every snap of at least one game. For a DT, that’s a ton and a rarity in the college game. At defensive tackle, Quentin Thomas saw some time in a rotating role, mostly with Davon Godchaux. Greg Gilmore, toward the end of the season, also rotated a small amount at DT.
At defensive end last year, LSU did have a pretty busy rotation – mostly because certain defensive sets called for different personnel. For example, when LSU ran the Mustang, Sione Teuhema served often as the DE instead of Jermauria Rasco. Deondre Clark also saw time in a few games in a rotating basis.
There’s an easy No. 1 here: Donte Jackson.
He’s been returning kicks, along with freshman Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette. Jackson ran a 4.36 40-yard dash over the summer so he’s got the speed to return kicks.
Specifically, you asked about special teams coverage units. Keep an eye on sophomore Donnie Alexander. He’s on the kickoff coverage team. He’s a musclebound ex-Edna Karr standout who broke into special teams as a freshman last season and will likely play a role on defense, too.
David Ducre, the No. 1- ranked FB in the nation in 2015, will likely find himself on several special special teams units. I wouldn’t be surprised to see redshirt freshman Tony Upchurch on some special teams units. Sophomore safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Ed Paris may play a big special teams role as well.
Remember, reporters got a very small window to watch each of the first eight practices of preseason camp. There were no special teams units practicing during the open windows.
Not sure if you want a number on this, but if I had to guess … 60% chance.
They’re not easy games. Mississippi State won 10 games last season and has one of the nation’s best QBs in Dak Prescott. Auburn is the pick to win the SEC and, though AU travels to Baton Rouge, the game is during the day – a 2:30 p.m. start.
Either way, we’ll know a lot about this LSU football team after that Auburn game.