GREEN BAY, Wis. — LSU will be without an experienced reserve on defense in its season opener against Wisconsin.
Frank Herron, a fourth-year junior expected to have a rotating role on the defensive line, did not travel to Green Bay for Saturday’s game. Herron and freshman receiver Dee Anderson and freshman cornerback Saivion Smith will not make the trip while serving a suspension, multiple sources confirmed to The Advocate.
Herron, a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder from Memphis, Tennessee, is the immediate backup to starting defensive end Davon Godchaux. Herron evolved last season into a key reserve, seeing as much as five series of playing time a game. His role this season was expected to be the same in new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s defense.
Aranda and line coach Ed Orgeron expect to rotate and shift the defensive front often, and nearly all of the players can play multiple positions along the front — defensive end, defensive tackle, nose tackle, outside linebacker/end hybrid.
A pair of players could see more time in Herron’s departure: junior Deondre Clark, once a highly touted prospect from Oklahoma who has played little; and true freshman Rashard Lawrence, the bell cow of LSU’s third-ranked 2016 signing class. Lawrence is listed as the No. 3 behind Godchaux and Herron. Clark is the backup to Lewis Neal at the other end position.
Anderson, a rangy and athletic rookie from Texas, wasn’t necessarily expected to see significant playing time in the game.
The 6-5, 202-pounder was a unanimous four-star prospect out of DeSoto, Texas. He enrolled in January and participated in spring practice, making the most impressive catch in the spring game: An outstretched Anderson snared a pass from Danny Etling.
Smith, also a mid-year enrollee who shined during the spring game, was listed as the No. 3 cornerback behind starter Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson. He was ranked, at one point, as the No. 1 recruit in the 2016 class.
Suspensions for a road season opener are nothing new. They are made more obvious when the Tigers open the season on the road. Suspended players often dress out, but don’t play, in home games.
Rashard Robinson, Maquedius Bain, Ronnie Feist and Elliott Porter were under suspension of varying kinds for the season opener against the Badgers in 2014. Teams are not under a travel limit for neutral site, nonconference games, but only 80 players can participate.
Herron is the fourth LSU front-five player who will be absent Saturday. Defensive end Christian LaCouture, a projected starter entering preseason camp, and Isaiah Washington, a backup to Arden Key, both went down with season-ending injuries. Outside linebacker Corey Thompson is out for at least the first two games, and potentially more, after fracturing his leg in camp.