LSU coach Ed Orgeron knows what his ideal scenario would be for the Tigers offensive line in 2020. It’s one of the big questions—largely predicated on the interior o-line—that the coaching staff has spent the offseason trying to figure out.
On a Wednesday appearance with WWL radio show “SportsTalk,” Orgeron went into detail about what the Tigers would love to see unfold once walkthrough practices start up on July 24. The plan revolves around the development of Harvard transfer Liam Shanahan, who the team initially viewed as a Swiss Army knife piece that could play multiple positions.
But as the players have started to return, Orgeron and the coaches are receiving nothing but positive feedback on Shanahan, who’s been taking snaps at center during player-led meet ups.
“What we are hearing, obviously we can’t watch them — but he’s snapping well, that’s what the quarterbacks are saying,” Orgeron said on “Off the Bench” Tuesday. “The other offensive linemen like him, they are working together. He is very smart. We feel that he, for sure, can make the calls and be a leader for us.”
In an interview with Bobby Hebert and Kristian Garic, Orgeron went into further detail about the ideal plan for the offensive line. If Shanahan can grab hold of the starting center position, it would allow Chasen Hines to move back to his more natural position at right guard.
The right guard spot is currently up for grabs between freshmen Kardell Thomas, who’s coming off a serious leg injury that derailed his first season in Baton Rouge, and a talented but raw Anthony Bradford.
"The center has got to make the calls," Orgeron said Wednesday. "He's got to give confidence to the offensive line that he has the knowledge. I think that's where Liam is going to have an advantage. He's a veteran player. He started all four years. He's very smart."
This ideal move would also allow Joseph Evans—a redshirt freshman that switched from defensive tackle to offensive line in his first year with the program—to learn from a more veteran player like Shanahan who has four years of starter experience, albeit at Harvard.
Obviously Shanahan has to go out and prove to the staff he’s the man for the center job once the pads come on. But it sounds like the 6-foot-5, 304-pound lineman has the backing of Orgeron, who said on Tuesday he thinks Shanahan has the talent to play in the NFL.
“Very impressed with the young man so far, but you've got to go through camp to get it done,” Orgeron said. “Another great find by James Cregg.”
If this scenario were to play out, it’d be LSU’s most experienced lineup with Dare Rosenthal at left tackle, Ed Ingram at left guard, Shanahan at center, Hines at right guard and Austin Deculus at right tackle.
Remember Hines does have some experience, appearing in eight games as a freshman and drawing one start and 10 games as Lloyd Cushenberry’s backup in 2019. Ingram has starter experience from his first year with the program back in 2017.
When guard Damien Lewis went down with a leg injury on the first series of the Peach Bowl game against Oklahoma, it was Ingram who filled in seamlessly.
Of course the Tigers do bring in some fresh faces in tackle Marcus Dumervil and guards Xavier Hill and Marlon Martinez, who the staff is very high on.
In the end, it looks on the surface like Orgeron and the staff are hoping experience triumphs youth, especially in an offseason that’s been so unpredictable.