Just three weeks ago, during an interview session, Davon Godchaux pointed across LSU’s indoor practice facility toward Greg Gilmore, one of the Tigers’ two nose tackles.
“Dirty work,” Godchaux said of the nose tackle position. “I salute Greg and Christian (LaCouture) every day. That’s the dirtiest work. You’re not going to make too many plays in the nose. You’ve got to do the dirty work.”
Godchaux’s getting dirty now.
LSU coaches swapped Godchaux and LaCouture less than two weeks ago, moving Godchaux to nose tackle and LaCouture to defensive end in new coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defense.
Godchaux played nose tackle with the first-string defense during Saturday’s spring game at Tiger Stadium. Afterward, he stood on the field holding his 5-month-old baby boy.
“Dirty now, eh?” a reporter asked.
Godchaux broke into a wide smile.
“I like it,” the rising junior said. “Use my quickness, get some penetration, some pass rush out there. It’s pretty good. It’s only going to help me in the future.”
Aranda installed just a small portion of his new scheme during 14 spring practices, and he’s still moving players around. He switched LaCouture and Godchaux following spring break two weeks ago. They only got about five practices at their new positions before Saturday.
Why move them?
Aranda gave a one-minute answer, full of football lingo and terminology, when a few words could have worked. The nose tackle in a 3-4 defense must be a dominant player that the offense feels it must block using two offensive linemen — not just one.
“He’s explosive, tough to beat, tough to block one-on-one,” Aranda said of Godchaux.
LaCouture, meanwhile, slides over into a defensive end role. It features a much different alignment than the position he played as a defensive tackle last year and the nose tackle spot he manned during the first three weeks of spring ball.
In his new role, he often lines up between the tackle and the guard. Last year as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, he lined up between the guard and the center or straight up on the guard. As a nose tackle earlier this spring, he lined up straight on the center.
And in addition to all of the shifting, he’s playing in a completely different scheme.
“A lot less bodies out there,” he said of the 3-4. “You got the center and two guards, and you don’t know where they’re coming. The end just tries to attack the tackle. If the guard comes to you, you’ve got to play off that. Really, it’s a lot more room to move around.”
In explaining the move, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron said it’s a more natural position for LaCouture and Godchaux.
“Quickness. His ability to get off of blocks,” Orgeron said of Godchaux. “A lot of times in that position, you’re getting a single block and you’ve got to win. Christian, it’s a natural position to play the 4i (technique) because he can play the 2 technique. It was a natural position.”
The 4i technique is LaCouture’s new alignment as a defensive end in the 3-4 — lining up on the inside shoulder of the tackle between the guard. The 2 technique is what he played as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 last year — lining up straight up on the guard or between the guard and center.
Orgeron, Aranda and head coach Les Miles already are plotting where their incoming signees will play. Sci Martin and Andre Anthony are natural defensive ends in a 3-4, Miles said Saturday. Edwin Alexander fits at nose tackle, and Rashard Lawrence could see time at a variety of spots.
Meanwhile, Godchaux is nestling into that nose tackle role — which, despite what he said a few weeks ago, can indeed produce playmakers.
“They can make plays. It’s all what you make of it,” he said. “It’s a mindset. If you want to make plays, you can make plays there.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.