Two LSU defensive starters are battling injuries, and at least one and possibly both are expected to miss the Tigers’ game against Western Kentucky on Saturday, multiple sources told The Advocate.
LSU plans to rest junior defensive tackle Christian LaCouture against the Hilltoppers after he suffered a foot injury this week. Junior cornerback and punt returner Tre’Davious White might miss the game against the Tigers’ pass-happy opponent while battling a knee injury.
White injured his knee in Monday’s practice and underwent an MRI, a source said. Those results are unknown.
LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette declined comment. Their statuses beyond Saturday are not known. No. 5 LSU (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has an open date next week before traveling to No. 8 Alabama (6-1, 3-1) for what’s likely to be a prime-time, nationally televised SEC West showdown.
The Tigers might have to play the Hilltoppers (6-1) without two of their more veteran defensive players, including a preseason All-SEC cornerback. Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty attempts 40 passes a game and averages 387 yards per game — the third-most nationally.
White did not meet with reporters Monday, despite being requested by reporters.
If White is out, his absence puts pressure on the Tigers in two areas: finding another cornerback to contend with the Hilltoppers’ potent passing game and finding another player to return punts.
True freshman Donte Jackson is listed as White’s backup at cornerback, although fellow freshman Kevin Toliver II or junior Dwayne Thomas could slide over into that spot. Either way, White’s possible absence makes the return of senior Jalen Mills all the more important. He’s expected to play significantly more than the 12-15 snaps he received last week in his first game back following a preseason camp injury.
Sophomore Jamal Adams is listed as White’s backup at punt returner, although Jackson, freshman tailback Derrius Guice or sophomore wide receiver Trey Quinn could also work in that spot. All of those players have worked at returning punts.
LaCouture started each of the Tigers’ six games and started all 13 last year. His absence Saturday means reserve tackles Greg Gilmore will likely get the starting nod. Gilmore and Frank Herron are expected to see significant more playing time than their usual 10-20 snaps per game.
The two are redshirt sophomores who have rotated with starting tackles LaCouture and Davon Godchaux through the first half of the season. Herron and Gilmore enter together for the two starters on about three to four drives per game - a substantial increase in their playing time from last season.
Still, neither has started a game in his career, and they’ve combined for 11 tackles, with each picking up a sack. Herron forced a fumble during a sack in a win over Auburn.
LaCouture is in the midst of his second full year as a starter. The 6-foot-5, 307-pounder is a key piece to a defense that ranks 14th nationally and is charged with stopping one of the country’s most prolific passing offenses.
LSU’s depth at defensive tackle isn’t the best. Just one scholarship tackle is behind Herron and Gilmore: Quentin Thomas, who has played in just one of six games this season. That came against lowly Eastern Michigan.
Miles ahead of the rest
The stat of the week comes from LSU director of multimedia Todd Politz, whose research shows Miles will coach his 50th game with his team in the top five of The Associated Press rankings Saturday night.
That means he’s led a top-five team onto the field for 36.0 percent of his 139 games with the No. 5 Tigers when they meet Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
What’s more impressive is that all of the other coaches in program history combined for 45 such games from the time the AP poll was begun in 1936 to 2004 — the year before Miles’ arrival at LSU.
Those other 45 games as the coach of a top-five LSU team belonged to Paul Dietzel (22), Charles McClendon (7), Nick Saban (7), Mike Archer (4), Bernie Moore (3) and Bill Arnsparger (2).
What’s in a name?
Western Kentucky’s roster includes a player with perhaps the most unique first name in college football — Wonderful Terry.
Terry, a starting cornerback, got his name from his father, a pastor who got it from the biblical passage Isaiah 9:6 (“And his name shall be called Wonderful”).
That’s not all: The starting cornerback opposite Terry is Prince Charles Iworah, whose parents always told him he had royal blood.
Saturday’s game is LSU’s 89th homecoming game, with the Tigers holding an all-time record of 61-24-3 on homecoming weekend and riding a 14-game winning streak.
LSU’s last homecoming loss was in 2000 to UAB, 13-10. That was also the last time LSU lost a nonconference game in Tiger Stadium, reeling off 44 straight wins since.
The Tigers have won 51 straight nonconference regular-season games overall dating to a 2002 loss at Virginia Tech, an ongoing FBS record.
LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is a little familiar with Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm.
Both were members of Washington Redskins’ organization in 1995 — Brohm as a quarterback and Cameron as the team’s quarterback coach.
Les Miles, movie star
Miles might be considering an acting career.
The coach opened his weekly press luncheon Monday by mentioning Tom Cruise’s presence at the Florida game last Saturday. The movie star, who is filming in-state, watched the contest from LSU athletic director Joe Alleva’s suite.
“My daughter saw him with probably about 50,000 other people that were straining their necks to see him,” Miles said. “Tom is doing another Jack Reacher movie. I’d be a good bad guy, a guy that Jack Reacher beats up.”
Ross Dellenger, Sheldon Mickles, Scott Rabalais and Marcus Rodrigue contributed to this report.