Several of the LSU players who did not travel with the team for the season opener will “work their way back” this week, coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday, but the status of at least two of them remain murky.
Defensive lineman Frank Herron and receiver Dee Anderson are not expected to return this week, Orgeron suggested, but “several” others could play in the Tigers’ home opener Saturday against Chattanooga. Thirteen scholarship players did not travel to New Orleans for the 27-0 win over BYU, including starters Kevin Toliver, at cornerback, and Donnie Alexander, at inside linebacker, and rotational players like Herron and outside linebacker Michael Divinity.
Herron’s status remains cloudy. The fifth-year senior donned a scout-team jersey at practice Monday, but returned to a regular jersey Tuesday. Orgeron did not reveal specifics on Herron’s situation. The coach has said he will not announce suspensions or the reasons for them.
Orgeron deemed Herron a "co-starter" with defensive end Christian LaCouture last month.
“Frank Herron is going to be on a week-to-week basis,” Orgeron said. “He’s not ready to play right now, not cleared to play and I don’t know when he’s going to play.”
Anderson, one of just three returning receivers to catch at least two passes last season, did not practice at all during camp while “out with an injury,” Orgeron said.
“The guys that didn’t play this week are going to work their way back,” the coach said. “We’re not going to make that decision right now. That could go all the way to game time."
Many of the possible school-record 17 freshmen who played Saturday did so because those projected starters or rotational players were left at home, potentially for unannounced suspensions. Inside linebacker Tyler Taylor replaced Alexander. Kary Vincent, a rotational player, saw almost all of the snaps at the nickelback position after Xavier Lewis was left back in Baton Rouge.
True freshmen Neil Farrell and Justin Thomas saw backup time on the defensive line without more veteran players like Herron and Deondre Clark. Jacory Washington played about a dozen snaps as the Tigers' third tight end; Caleb Roddy did not travel.
All but three of those 13 players — Anderson, Roddy and edge rusher Sci Martin — practiced Monday. Martin returned to practice Tuesday.
"We have team rules. That’s it. We have team rules," Orgeron said when asked about his philosophy on discipline. "You break the team rules, you pay the price. We bring guys in, counsel them, talk to them, give them help in a lot of areas. We’re there for them, but once they cross the line, they must face the penalty."
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LSU remained at No. 12 in the Amway coaches poll released Tuesday.
Key still out
Junior edge rusher Arden Key remains sidelined while recovering from shoulder surgery, but the preseason All-American’s participation in practice this week will expand.
Reporters, during the brief open portion of practice Tuesday, got to see Key collide with teammates in one-on-one pass-rushing drills. It was something expected after Orgeron's comments Tuesday during his weekly news conference.
“He’s still waiting to be cleared for contact,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to do a little more with him today. Going to see what he can do. He’ll get a little more contact today as far as repetition. I don’t know if he’s full speed yet. We’re bringing him along. He’s not ready to play, hasn’t been cleared for a game yet.”
Freshman K’Lavon Chaisson and redshirt freshman Ray Thornton rotated Saturday night at Key’s position. Chaisson played the majority of the snaps and started, one of three defensive true freshmen who got the nod, joining Taylor and safety Grant Delpit.
“I’m glad we have them,” Orgeron said of the freshmen. “They are exactly what we thought in recruiting. The thing that I was really impressed with the most was their mental outlook on the game. The game was not too big for them at all. They were running around, ready to go. They didn't have a deer-in-the-headlights look at all. They were ready to go. They played like vets.”
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Kickoff job ‘reopening’
After Game 1, at least one starting job is back open: the kickoff specialist.
“Must improve kickoffs,” Orgeron said. “We want our kickoffs into the end zone. They were not what they’re supposed to be. We’re going to open up the competition for who’s going to kick off for this week, make some changes there.”
One of six kickoffs from redshirt freshman Connor Culp went for a touchback Saturday. He averaged 63.3 yards, putting his average spot near the 2-yard line. That ranked around 50th nationally through Week 1.
Culp beat out walk-on Jack Gonsoulin for the kickoff job after Gonsoulin won the place-kicking gig. Senior Cameron Gamble, still on the roster, averaged 61.2 yards as LSU’s main kickoff man last season.
Gonsoulin, from Catholic High, kicked off a few times last season.
“I know that Connor has a really, really good leg,” Gonsoulin said. “I’ll compete if the coaches want me to do. I’ll do whatever they want me to do.”
The kickoff team could see more changes, too, Orgeron said. He was unhappy with LSU’s kickoff coverage and its “lane assignments.” BYU averaged 19.1 yards per kick return.
“We’re going to make some changes in the personnel on kickoffs,” Orgeron said.
The good, the bad and the “forget about it” from LSU’s 27-0 victory Saturday over BYU: