LSU guard Ed Ingram runs through a drill during spring practice in April. Ingram, a projected starter on the right side this coming season was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules this past week. Now the Tigers must shuffle their offensive line in hopes of finding a new starter at that position. (Photo courtesy of The Advocate)
Filling in the holes
BATON ROUGE -- An area that was supposed to bring little in the way of adversity for the LSU Tigers was the offensive line. But, that adversity hit the Tigers in a big way this past week, as starting right guard Ed Ingram was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.
Even though the prospect of not having Ingram there for possibly the rest of the season, head coach Ed Orgeron’s confidence didn’t seem to waver in the remaining offensive lineman after announcing the loss of Ingram.
“We should be fine there,” Orgeron said. “We’re in good shape. We won’t blink. I think we’re very solid with our run game right now. We need to show up in our pass protection. That’s the key here in the SEC. You’re playing against a first-round draft choice every week.”
Orgeron said junior-college transfer Damien Lewis, who was the backup left guard, will replace Ingram, and true freshman Chasen Hines will flip from defensive nose tackle to fill in for Lewis.
Lewis, a 6-3, 326-pound junior from Northwest Mississippi Community College, was rated the No. 3 offensive guard by 247Sports, and Orgeron said he was “probably our most talented of linemen.”
As for the outer edge of the offensive line, Orgeron named 6-5, 321-pound sophomore Saahdiq Charles as the starting left tackle and 6-6, 324-pound sophomore Austin Deculus as the starting right tackle. With Charles being named, the hotly contested position has now been settled.
Another question that arises with training camp in full swing is who will take the bulk of the carries at running back. With only six running backs on his roster, Orgeron desperately needs someone to step up and make an impact from the start of camp.
Nick Brossette, a senior who has waited his turn behind Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, has 306 career rushing yards. Last season Brossette played in 13 games and made his first career start against Troy.
Brossette also rushed for 96 yards on 19 carries for the year and finished with a career-high 11 attempts and season-high 63 yards against Chattanooga.
Brossette is a talented local product who has shown the ability to bulldoze over would-be tacklers but also has the shiftiness to cut runs outside.
Sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be in line for a breakout year in 2018, as he’s coming off a tremendous spring. Last year, Edwards Hellaire saw action in all 13 games on special teams and totaled nine carries at running back, with six of those carries coming against BYU in the opener.
Edwards-Helaire Plays much bigger than his 5-foot-8, 208-pround frame. Defenders tend to lose track of him behind LSU’s huge offensive line and he can squirt through the smallest crease for positive yards. Edwards -Helaire is a very elusive runner with breakaway speed and is also an asset in the passing game with reliable hands out of the backfield.
Chris Curry is a true freshman from Florida that racked up 2,984 yards on 364 carries, rushing for 28 touchdowns in his career. Curry was listed as the ninth-best running back in the nation by recruiting publications.
Tae Provens, another true freshman out of Alabama, is a versatile offensive threat that can lineup in the slot or in the backfield. Provens was rated as the No. 14 overall player in Alabama according to Rivals and was also listed as the No. 27 running back in the country coming out of high school.