As LSU reaches the halfway mark of its spring practice schedule, the Tigers have a few positions of concern in terms of overall depth. As a result, the program has been forced to move some players around, particularly at running back and safety.
Reinforcements are expected in the summer as safeties Sage Ryan and Matthew Langlois as well as running backs Corey Kiner and Armoni Goodwin will arrive in a few months. But in the meantime, it's forced Ed Orgeron and the coaching staff to get creative with both positions.
For starters, the program has moved receiver Alex Adams to safety as well as cornerback Jay Ward, who really came on towards the end of his second season in Baton Rouge. Ward, has primarily spent his time as a slot corner but with Cordale Flott having that spot pretty secure, Orgeron and defensive coordinator Daronte Jones thought it was best to get a good look with Ward at safety.
"When he was called upon last year he played very good and I thought he made some outstanding plays there. He showed a lot of versatility, showed a lot of awareness and we moved him to safety and I just think he's a natural back there," Orgeron said. "He's a good corner but it's more of a position of need but it's nice to see somebody go back there and do the job. I think he's gonna have a great year for us."
In Adams' case, he was recruited as a receiver but also played cornerback and safety in high school. Orgeron called Adams a hard hitter on defense and thought that because of the depth at receiver, the team could get a better look at him with a position change.
"Alex played both ways at Mississippi, a hard hitter that played corner and played nickel," Orgeron said. "We knew we needed some help at safety so we wanted to move him back and during spring is a good time to look at it."
As for running back, both John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price have been dealing with injuries which has hampered what the group ultimately looks like during the spring scrimmages. Of course when Kiner and Goodwin get to campus, the room will be full as Kevontre Bradford also earned reps as a freshman towards the end of the season.
The team even experimented with freshman Derrick Davis Jr. at running back last week but he's since moved back to safety.
The offense hasn't looked complete because of those injuries at running back and the defense has been taking advantage in the early scrimmages.
“I thought our defense played very well. I thought they did a good job of tackling, only had 10 missed tackles but we didn’t have that many explosive plays," Orgeron said of the most recent scrimmage. "We didn’t have that many running backs available. Our safeties made some explosive plays, I thought that Max and Myles had their best days as quarterbacks and that’s been seesawing the whole time. I was very impressed with the play of our safeties and corners and Jay Ward at safety, I think he played very well. Damone Clark had a good game, Bugg Strong was all over the place, those guys played very well.”
Orgeron isn't worried about these being long term concerns in terms of depth at both safety and running back positions. It's more of a result of the rooms not being complete yet. The real concern comes on the lack of depth behind the offensive line as there is a real gap between the starters and the rest of the depth chart.
"They’re not ready to play yet, I just told the coaches we can’t sit back and we’ve got the first team and develop them slowly," Orgeron said of the offensive line. "I wanna pick up the pace on their development. I want a sense of urgency, I want them to be ready, I want them to get some first team snaps and prove to me if the guy in front of them goes down, they’re ready to play.”