Normally, Andy Dodd is the one on the sideline watching plays unfold.
He’s the one who lectures his offensive line teammates when they run off the field, filling their minds with information on the opponent, knowledge he’s gained from his sideline perspective.
That guy last week against Southern Miss was Will Clapp. Usually LSU’s starting guard, Clapp, dressed in pants and a collared shirt, stood on the sideline next to line coach Jeff Grimes.
“He just tried to keep a watch on things we might have missed, kind of like an extra coach,” Dodd said. “That’s kind of my role normally.”
Their roles are expected to return to normal when No. 25 LSU (4-2, 2-1) hosts No. 23 Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday night. Clapp, nursing a banged up right shoulder, is expected to start at left guard, interim coach Ed Orgeron said, leaving Dodd to serve in his customary role as the Tigers’ backup center.
“We feel healthy," Orgeron said. "The only one that’s not ready to go is Toby (Weathersby). All the other guys are rested and ready to go. We feel like Clapp is going to be able to play. So we’re ready to go.”
Ethan Pocic, a senior who started at right tackle last week, will return to his normal spot, center, and Maea Teuhema will move from left guard to right tackle. Weathersby, the Tigers' starter at right tackle in the season opener, is not fully recovered from an ankle sprain he suffered against Mississippi State in Game 3, Orgeron said.
Clapp missed the game against Southern Miss after injuring his shoulder in the first half of the win over Missouri on Oct. 1. His return leaves Dodd out.
“I have to be ready to go,” Dodd said earlier this week. “If I go, if I’m in a backup role, I have to be preparing in case somebody gets hurt or goes down.”
LSU’s shuffled offensive line against Southern Miss got off to a bumpy start, but, soon after, “we clicked,” Dodd said. Dodd made his first college start, and Pocic made his first start at right tackle since eighth grade.
“I thought I did good,” Pocic said. “Thought it was all right.”
On the Tigers’ second offensive snap, USM linebacker Elijah Parker rushed untouched between left tackle K.J. Malone and Teuhema, sacking quarterback Danny Etling for an 8-yard loss.
“It was a look we hadn’t seen before. One of the linebackers we were responsible for was in a different spot,” Dodd said. “After that, they ran the same coverage and defense. We adjusted to it and got it corrected.”
Who helped? Clapp, of course.
“That first sack, he’s the one that told us what had happened,” Dodd said, “because when you’re playing, you don’t see everything that went on.”
Moreau in; Thompson out
Tight end Foster Moreau is expected to return for the game against Ole Miss on Saturday, while outside linebacker Corey Thompson is not fully recovered from a fractured leg he suffered during preseason camp.
Moreau missed the game against Southern Miss after an illness flared up during the second half of the win over Missouri. Thompson returned to practice last week for the first time since his injury during the first week of camp.
Moreau serves as LSU's No. 2 run-blocking tight end. He's been replaced recently by true freshman Caleb Roddy. A timetable for Thompson's return is not set.
"He barely practiced," Orgeron said when asked about Thompson, a senior who could redshirt. "A little sore. It’s going to take a while.”
Alexander's role growing
True freshman nose tackle Ed Alexander is seeing his role grow, despite a fractured hand.
Alexander, a highly touted rookie out of St. Thomas Aquinas, played several series in the win over Southern Miss while coaches purposely sat junior college transfer Travonte Valentine. Valentine did not practice well enough leading up to the win over the Golden Eagles, and he's still behind, Orgeron said.
“He’s a little bit behind in his technique," the coach said. "Ed Alexander is ahead of him. Right now, he’s on the third team. A lot of times, the third-team guys don’t get a lot of reps. If so, he may get some reps, but I see (starter) Greg Gilmore and Ed Alexander getting more reps than him.”
Alexander suffered a fractured hand, Orgeron said, but he will wear a protective mitt during the game.
Jackson to return punts ‘soon’
On the SEC teleconference Wednesday, Orgeron said cornerback Donte Jackson, who is now the Tigers’ primary kick returner, could be returning punts “hopefully soon.”
He's just not ready yet.
"We feel that he still has a little way to go," Orgeron said Thursday after practice. "We like (Tre'Davious White) doing it. We feel like (White) has the experience doing it. Hopefully, soon we can get (Jackson) back there and share some reps with (White).”
On Wednesday during his radio show, Orgeron said Jackson needed more practice catching punts before replacing White.
"We feel like if he’s able to catch the ball in the right way and not fumble it, he’ll be back there," he said.