Less than a week before season opener, three LSU players battling for starting guard spots on O-line _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Offensive linemen, from left to right, Vadal Alexander, Jevonte Domond, Josh Boutte and Garrett Brumfield work at fall camp Friday at LSU 's Charles McClendon Football Practice Facility.

The position battle at offensive guard is far from over.

LSU released its first official depth chart of the season Monday, revealing co-starters separated by “OR” at both left and right guard.

Redshirt freshman Will Clapp and true freshman Maea Teuhema lead the way at left guard, while junior Josh Boutte and Clapp top the depth chart on the right side. Sophomore K.J. Malone and redshirt freshman Garrett Brumfield are listed as the third option at left and right guard, respectively.

Though most of the shuffling along the offensive line has died down, Boutte said he expects the competition at guard to continue well past the Tigers’ season opener against McNeese State on Saturday night.

“The biggest thing is about making each other better,” he said. “What better way to do that than to compete throughout the whole season?”

Guard appears to be the only spot in question for the offensive line. Junior Jerald Hawkins and senior Vadal Alexander have been shoo-ins at the tackle positions since the end of last season, and the depth chart lists junior Ethan Pocic as the starting center. Pocic initially worked at left guard for the first few weeks of preseason camp.

He swapped positions with Clapp, who is a co-starter at both guard spots. But Teuhema, though only a freshman, has been making a strong case for playing time. Teammates have praised his strength and versatility since the start of preseason practice, and Boutte even said Teuhema can play several roles along the line.

A revolving door at guard can be unsettling for the tackles, who have to communicate with and be comfortable beside their interior linemen. Alexander, however, is just fine with the ongoing competition.

“Whoever is on the line next to me and in the starting five is definitely going to be a capable guy,” Alexander said. “We’ve been working so hard, and I trust everybody who’s in contention right now. I have no worries about that.”

Fournette No. 1 kick returner

Leonard Fournette is poised to receive 20-plus carries a game this season, but the sophomore standout looks to remain the Tigers’ kick returner, too.

Fournette was listed as the No. 1 kick returner on LSU’s depth chart released Monday. Freshmen Derrius Guice and Donte Jackson were behind him in a co-backup role.

Fournette has said that “it doesn’t matter” whether he returns kicks, but he’s expressed an interest in continuing in that role.

Last season he returned 24 kicks for an average of 26 yards per attempt, good for fourth in the Southeastern Conference. One of the more notable highlights of Fournette’s freshman season was a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown against Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl.

Most of the sophomore’s touches will come against heavily crowded defensive fronts, but he said returning kicks has its challenges, as well.

“It’s harder than what you think. Return guys come down at full speed,” Fournette said. “It’s about trying to give us the best leverage with the ball.”

Cornerback Tre’Davious White is listed as LSU’s starting punt returner, and safety Jamal Adams is his backup, according to the depth chart.

Toliver ahead of Paris

True freshman Kevin Toliver is ahead of sophomore Ed Paris in the competition at cornerback, according to the depth chart released by LSU on Monday.

Toliver is listed as a co-starter at cornerback with junior Dwayne Thomas, believed to be the starter at cornerback when the Tigers are in base defense. Thomas, Toliver and Paris have been battling for the starting job during camp.

Toliver seems to have the edge over Paris. Thomas, meanwhile, is expected to play nickelback in LSU’s five-defensive back set. Toliver or Paris would then enter at corner.

True freshmen No. 2s

True freshmen litter the Tigers’ depth chart, including a few on the second line for several position.

Toby Weathersby is listed as the backup to RT Vadal Alexander, and Arden Key is backing up starting DE Tashawn Bower. Bry’Kiethon Mouton is at No. 2 fullback behind John David Moore, and Donte Jackson is backing up Tre’Davious White at corner.

Throw in Meae Teuhema and Toliver and the Tigers have six rookies in co-starting or immediate backup roles.

Lagniappe

Receiver Trey Quinn is “healthy,” Miles said Monday. Quinn had suffered a head/neck injury in the Tigers’ first scrimmage of preseason camp, he said. ... LSU voted on its team captains, and the results are as follows: tackles Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander on offense, cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Kendell Beckwith on defense, and punter Jamie Keehn and longsnapper Reid Ferguson on special teams.