Left guard Will Clapp wasn’t 100 percent in LSU season-opening loss to Wisconsin. He acknowledges that.
“Probably 90 percent,” the redshirt sophomore said.
Days before his team’s trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin, he twisted his ankle blocking on the backside of a play in practice. Clapp sported a boot the Friday before the opener against the Badgers, a 16-14 loss.
“It sucked,” he said. “That’s actually my first time ever rolling my ankle, and it was definitely something that I wasn’t used to. But I was able to play in the game. A couple of plays, it hurt, but for the most part I was pretty good.”
After recovering from hip surgery in the offseason, Clapp was once again stricken by an injury, affecting a unit still trying to establish chemistry. Two tackles had to be replaced from last year’s group. The other starting guard last year, Maea Teuhema, moved to tackle in the offseason, but an ankle injury set him back.
Though he played, Teuhema wasn’t in the starting lineup against Wisconsin. Even left tackle K.J. Malone battled an unspecified injury during camp, coach Les Miles said.
The inexperience and lack of cohesion showed against Wisconsin as quarterback Brandon Harris was sacked twice and pressured on eight of 24 drop backs. Then, right guard Josh Boutte was suspended for a post-play hit in the final minutes against the Badgers, forcing Teuhema to move back to guard against Jacksonville State.
"The injuries, they limit how much guys can practice, and obviously the practice is where we attain most of that chemistry and that sort of flow,” fullback J.D. Moore said. “Now, I think that’s not as much of an issue. But during camp, we had a lot of injuries, especially to the (offensive) line. So it’s been a bigger hurdle than it has been in years past to get the (offensive) line healthy and now firing on all cylinders.”
After a much-improved performance against the Gamecocks, perhaps now the Tigers offensive line is where it wants to be. Clapp said he felt 100 percent against the Gamecocks, and Boutte will be available for action against Mississippi State (1-1) Saturday.
Even Teuhema is no longer showing signs of ankle fatigue, center Ethan Pocic said.
“I can’t speak for him, but it looks like it,” Pocic said. “He’s playing like it. He’s playing really well. I’d say he is. If not, close.”
If Boutte returns to the lineup and Teuhema starts at one of the tackles, Miles would be employing his third different starting unit this season. Certainly, that’s not optimal for a team that will begin Southeastern Conference play this weekend. But the linemen said they have adjusted to the idea of “mixing and matching,” as Miles said Monday.
“We did it all camp — new guys in the lineup each day — so we’re used to it,” Clapp said. “It’s a pretty fluid lineup, and we’re used to having different guys in different spots.”
The crowd remaining in Tiger Stadium let out a collective oooooh.
‘Not on just one group’
Safety Jamal Adams has been accused on Twitter of being responsible for the 76-yard Jacksonville State touchdown in the second quarter. However, he assures the play that started as a slant route between cornerback Donte Jackson and him wasn’t his fault.
“No, no, no, it definitely wasn’t me,” Adams said. “I got a lot stuff on Twitter about it that it was me. It definitely wasn’t me, but that’s just how the game goes.”
Gamecocks quarterback Eli Jenkins rifled a pass to Krenwick Sanders, and Adams appeared to try to undercut the ball for a deflection or interception. Adams missed, and Jackson wasn’t in position to make the tackle, allowing Sanders to race to the end zone.
"I want you to know, we think we can be a lot better in just simple awareness there," Miles said Monday. "These were not big gaffes. These were poor steps."
Adams wouldn’t say who was responsible for the error and acknowledges the defense, as a whole, takes responsibility for any big play.
“As a secondary, it hurts, but not all the time is it on the secondary,” Adams said. “It could be a defensive lineman not dropping in the right hook or a linebacker not pushing. But it’s on the defense, period. It’s not on just one group.”