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Chattanooga running back Alex Trotter (24) is smothered on the stop by LSU linebacker Corey Thompson (23), LSU linebacker Donnie Alexander (48), LSU safety Grant Delpit (9) and LSU defensive tackle Ed Alexander (95) during the first half of LSU's football home opener against Chattanooga Saturday Sept. 9, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.. LSU won 45-10.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

OXFORD, Miss. — LSU's season-long problem - defensive depth - is taking another hit.

The 24th-ranked Tigers will play Ole Miss without rotational players Michael Divinity, at outside linebacker, and Ed Alexander, at nose tackle. Neither arrived at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with the team. Neither player appeared to suffer an injury last week, but Divinity missed some practices this week.

LSU (5-2, 2-1 Southeastern) and Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) meet at 6:15 p.m. Saturday in a game that coach Ed Orgeron called a "must win" for his surging Tigers. LSU is on a two-game win streak, knocking off then-No. 21 Florida on the road and storming back to beat then-No. 10 Auburn at home last week.

A touchdown favorite in Oxford, Mississippi, the Tigers' biggest problem issue this season is cropping up again. Alexander and Divinity spell starting players for, usually, short stretches.

The two underclassmen normally each play about 10-20 snaps a game. Divinity has played more in some games, as starting F-outside linebacker Corey Thompson battles lingering injuries. The 340-pound Alexander might be the biggest loss, though. He's a force inside when fresh, pushing a pocket and wrestling through double teams. 

Greg Gilmore is LSU's starting nose tackle, and Glen Logan, a redshirt freshman, will likely slide inside to back him up. Redshirt freshman Ray Thornton is considered the No. 3 behind Divinity at F-outside linebacker. 

Coach Ed Orgeron's club will have to battle Ole Miss' no-huddle, pass-happy attack without the two key reserves - another blow to this squad's defensive depth. LSU is already without four defensive players: edge rushers Andre Anthony (ankle/foot) and Sci Martin (presumably suspended/ineligible), and defensive backs Kristian Fulton (presumably suspended/ineligible) and Ed Paris (knee - out for season). 

Also, defensive back Xavier Lewis, once a rotational player at nickel, has not played in a game in nearly a month, and two defensive linemen are ineligible: freshman nose tackle Tyler Shelvin (academic redshirt) and transfer Breiden Fehoko (transfer rules).

Depth is a lingering issue for the Tigers this season. At one point during LSU's loss at Mississippi State, Orgeron had four defensive linemen available for three D-line positions. The depth problems are preventing a deep rotation or any rotation at all.

Earlier this season, defensive end Christian LaCouture played every snap of a game. Starting defensive end Rashard Lawrence missed three of the first five games with an ankle injury, and a broken finger prevented Alexander from playing in two games. 

Frank Herron missed the first six games of the year because of a presumed half-season suspension. He returned last week against Auburn, playing about 15 snaps. Senior Deondre Clark and freshman Neil Farrell rarely rotate. 

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.