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Now’s the Time for LSU Football Defensive Tackle Siaki “Apu” Ika to Shine in 4-3 Defense

Ika possesses ideal size to carry on similar role left behind by Shelvin

The loss of junior Tyler Shelvin up front is a massive hit, both figuratively and literally, to the LSU defense. It takes away a unique component of a defensive line that's trying to get more pressure on the quarterback.

What made Shelvin, at 6-foot-3, 330 pounds, such a daunting player in the trenches was his innate ability to draw multiple offensive linemen at a time. It allowed his teammates around him more favorable positions to attack the quarterback. 

However, the loss of Shelvin while impactful, is not crippling to the interior defensive line. Keep in mind it was just a few months ago that coach Ed Orgeron raved about the depth across the d-line, saying the Tigers could go four deep at every position. 

Senior Glen Logan figures to be one of the starters on the inside while freshmen Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory could also push for an increase in snaps this season. But the real beneficiary is sophomore defensive tackle Siaki "Apu" Ika.

At 6-foot-4, 340 pounds, Ika played sparingly as a freshman but showed flashes of immense potential in his first season with the program. The main problem for Ika a season ago was that he played the exact same position as Shelvin, which made it hard to get him on the field consistently. 

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In 13 appearances as a freshman in a rotational role, Ika recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Now it's his time to establish himself as one of the country's premier interior defensive linemen. That's what it'll take to offset the loss of a guy like Shelvin. 

Like Shelvin, Ika struggled at times to keep his weight down last season. During spring ball, when Shelvin and Ika were both on the team, Orgeron talked about how he could use them both on the field at the same time in Bo Pelini's 4-3 scheme.

Now with just Ika on board, that option is no longer available but his fit with the defensive scheme remains unchanged. 

"Jacobian Guillory had an outstanding practice yesterday. Man, the guy made plays. Jaquelin Roy, those guys are gonna have to play for us. Glen Logan and now (Siaki) 'Apu' Ika's gonna start at nose," Orgeron said Tuesday. "We have some young guys. They're gonna have to play. They're gonna have to get better as the season goes on."

Exactly how big an impact Ika can make remains to be seen. While he was always expected to play a role, it wasn't clear how much opportunity he'd get with Shelvin and Logan ahead on the depth chart. 

While his overall size is very much similar to what Shelvin player at a year ago, Ika doesn’t quite have the same athleticism. Nevertheless he’ll be a fascinating player to watch in 2020 and could be a real breakout star for the program if he fulfills his potential.