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.
OXFORD, Mississippi — Hotty toddy, gosh almighty!
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).
In a span of seven weeks, LSU’s football season has had everything except aliens touching do…
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.