LSU's coaching staff will have a plan Saturday against Rice that will lay out how the Tigers can take advantage of this season's new redshirt rule, giving playing time to inexperienced players.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said his staff has entered every game this season with a similar plan, which in part keeps track of how many games players have played in.
In June, the NCAA's Division I council approved a proposal that allows players to play in up to four games and not burn their redshirt for the season.
When LSU (8-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) hosts Rice (1-10, 0-7 Conference USA) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium, it'll be an ideal game for inexperienced players to see the field.
"Obviously, we're going in with our first team," Orgeron said. "We're going in to win the game. If things happen, we have several guys that we're going to give a chance. We're going to practice them this week, make sure they're ready, and if they get a chance to go in the game, we'll put them in."
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So far, LSU has 12 players who have played this season in four or fewer games and are still eligible to redshirt. That list includes sophomore outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, who would likely also be eligible for a medical redshirt because he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Sept. 2 season opener against Miami.
True freshman running back Chris Curry is the only player among the 12 to have already reached the four-game cap. Curry, a 6-foot, 219-pound Florida native, carried the ball at least once in games against Miami, Auburn, Ole Miss and Florida — a total of eight carries for 2 yards.
Orgeron said the coaching staff intends to redshirt Curry, although it's "not a final decision." They won't play him the rest of the season "unless we completely have to play him."
Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have taken the bulk of the carries this season, and LSU could turn to fourth-year junior Lanard Fournette (three carries, 13 yards), sophomore Justin Jones (no carries, two games played), true freshman Tae Provens (no carries, one game played) if it wants to preserve Curry's redshirt.
A breakdown of the 12 players eligible for redshirts shows where LSU was able to provide depth this season when the Tigers needed it.
Four of those players were defensive linemen or edge rushers.
Freshmen defensive tackles Davin Cotton and Nelson Jenkins both played Sept. 8 against Southeastern Louisiana, when starting nose guard Ed Alexander did not play.
Travez Moore, a community college transfer who is still eligible for a Division I redshirt, also played against Southeastern, when starting field linebacker Michael Divinity didn't play.
And when LSU's pass rush was underperforming, Orgeron slotted Moore back into the lineup against Florida on Oct. 6.
"(Moore) has good pass-rush moves," Orgeron said before the Florida game, in which Moore had one tackle in LSU's 27-19 loss. "He always had the physical tools; it was just a matter of learning the defense and being in the right place at the right time. We feel he's breached that point, so it's time to give him a shot.
Most of the time this season, LSU has not had the luxury of being up by more than three scores — the kind of cushion that provides an opportunity for those on the bottom of the depth chart to get their shot on the field.
But in LSU's 45-16 blowout of Ole Miss on Sept. 29, true freshman center Cole Smith got to take eight snaps toward the end of the game. Smith was the center when quarterback Joe Burrow ran for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the game.
"That's great for (Smith), getting that playing experience and to still have all those years ahead of him," said sophomore center Lloyd Cushenberry, who redshirted during his true freshman season. "I think it's a good rule."
Backup quarterback Myles Brennan is perhaps the most anticipated bench player on the roster. The 6-5, 183-pound sophomore is among the 33 players on LSU's 118-man roster who haven't played at all this season.
Orgeron said Monday that Brennan "experienced a minor injury that was hampering his throwing throughout the year," which kept him from playing in one game this season. Orgeron said following the Ole Miss game that there was a situation in which Brennan could have played.
"I don't think he was healthy or ready to go," Orgeron said Monday. "And he didn't want to go in that situation, and I don't blame him. I asked him to go, and I talked to him and his father about it. Now it seems like he's going to redshirt, which is great for him and is great for our football team."
Brennan's minor injury was alarming for LSU, because he and Burrow are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster — something that Orgeron said he was "concerned" about after former quarterbacks Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse transferred out of the program in preseason camp.
Burrow has been the only quarterback to take a snap this season. That has only happened one other time at LSU since 2000: Brandon Harris played every offensive snap in 2015, when the Tigers went 9-3 in former coach Les Miles' final full season.
Burrow has been durable while rushing for 258 yards and four touchdowns and being sacked 26 times, which is the second-most in the SEC.
"He's a tough, tough dude," Cushenberry said. "Every time, he always gets back up. So we're going to try the rest of this year to keep him clean. That's on us."
But Burrow's streak behind center may come to an end against Rice, if an opportunity comes up for Brennan to play.
"(Brennan's) doing a really good job," Brossette said. "He's doing anything for this team to win. He's sitting back and being patient, just like I had to do. He's been having a positive attitude through everything, so I'm proud of him for that."