LSU senior center Elliott Porter is coming back just in time.
After completing a school-issued two-game suspension for summer-job pay issues, Porter, a 13-game starter last season and a member of the Rimington Trophy Watch List, will make his 2014 debut Saturday night against Louisiana-Monroe in Tiger Stadium.
LSU coach Les Miles said at his weekly news conference Monday that Porter will start in place of Ethan Pocic, who injured his right ankle in the second quarter of Saturday’s 56-0 rout of Sam Houston State.
Pocic, who started one game in 2013 as a true freshman, stepped in and replaced Porter against Wisconsin and Sam Houston State. Pocic was hurt Saturday night when his ankle was inadvertently stepped on by 334-pound guard Evan Washington while the two blocked on a running play.
Miles said Monday that Pocic, who had to be helped off the field by trainers and was replaced by redshirt freshman Andy Dodd, got a little “nicked” and will return this week.
Washington, a backup who played both left and right guard against Sam Houston State after battling right guard Hoko Fanaika for the starting job in preseason camp, said it will be good to have Porter back on the offensive line after his two-game absence.
“It’s great to have him back; he’s a senior leader,” Washington said. “I don’t know what’s going on with Pocic, but I know Elliott is excited, and he’s going to be ready to go. He’s a great teammate and a great player.
“We had great chemistry this summer, so we’ll see where it takes us. But we have to have a great week of practice.”
Getting Porter back with Fanaika and starting left guard Vadal Alexander as well as tackles La’el Collins and Jerald Hawkins was important, Washington said, not to mention getting back in a groove with quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris.
Washington noted that Porter, who wasn’t made available for player interviews Monday, was not that far away the past couple of weeks during the suspension.
“He stayed in his play book, but he had to be,” he said. “The base offense stays the same, but week-to-week, there are tweaks and adjustments. He was involved and still preparing like a starter even though he wasn’t going to play.”
“It adds veteran leadership and veteran experience to our O-line,” Alexander said of Porter’s timely return. “We’re excited to have Elliott back … we missed him, and we’re looking forward to having him back this week. It feels good to have him back.”
Miles, Washington and Alexander praised the play of Pocic during his nearly six quarters as the starter, along with Dodd, who took his first collegiate snaps as an offensive lineman.
“Andy got a half, and that was really good for him,” Miles said. “(It was) certainly good for us to see him respond that way.”
“Andy did great; that’s big for anybody, especially being thrown into it like that,” Washington said. “He didn’t miss a beat. He was there making all the calls and blocking people.
“It was good, and I was really happy for him.”
“Absolutely, Ethan did a really good job; he did exactly what he needed to do when he was out there,” Alexander said. “He knew everything that he had to do and did a really good job.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.