With defensive line banged up, Northwestern State presents opportunity for younger players to make impact
LSU coach Ed Orgeron held his weekly Monday press conference ahead of the team's matchup with Northwestern State, his alma mater. Orgeron said the team is a little banged up and will likely be without a few veterans come Saturday.
The third quarter of the Tigers 45-38 win over Texas proved to be a costly one on the injury front as a few members of the defensive line will not be at practice this week, and likely out for the game.
Orgeron said starting defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan would not participate in practice while outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson would be listed as questionable.
Chaisson, according to Orgeron, is walking around with a boot on his foot but the team is just being cautious and doesn't think their star outside linebacker will be out very long.
"He could be available for the game Saturday but I just don't know quite yet," Orgeron said of Chaisson. "The rest of the guys will be ok."
When Orgeron says "rest of the guys," he means the plethora of LSU players that went down in the third quarter due to cramping issues on the Longhorn 19-play drive to open the second half. Those players include Grant Delpit, Michael Divinity and Todd Harris but are all fine now and will be at practice.
Part of the reason for the cramps can be explained that there was no A/C in the visitor locker room, something Orgeron called Louisiana Tech, Texas' first opponent, about before the game.
"We did some things in the dressing room that were better," Orgeron said. "It wasn't great but it was better, at least we had air in there. We had some blowers in there but I don't think that caused as much as going out there and having to play 93 plays on defense. We talked about it as a staff and decided we need to give more IVs at halftime."
With injuries to a few of the Tigers stars, LSU will likely play it cautious this week against the Demons and hold those guys out, particularly the injuries on the defensive line. That will create opportunity for freshmen and sophomores who otherwise wouldn't get that much playing time.
With Lawrence and Logan out, Orgeron said senior Breiden Fehoko and junior Neil Farrell Jr. would get more snaps at defensive end to start.
"Every time you play LSU, it's going to be their red letter game," Orgeron said. "They're going to be playing in Tiger Stadium so they're going to play lights out and play their best ball. We're going to be ready, we're going to practice hard. Yes we plan on playing guys that normally might not play, if we can."
Orgeron said the plan is to start with the first team offense and defense, which why Fehoko and Farrell will get those defensive end snaps at the start of the game.
"Neil Farrell has been playing very well," Orgeron said. "He's been playing very well. Breiden will get more snaps at defensive end. Hopefully, Siaki can get more snaps at nose tackle. Jarell Cherry will be behind Glen Logan, and then Nelson Jenkins can get some snaps. Those guys will have to be our defensive line this week the way it looks."
With Chaisson also potentially out, Orgeron said to look for freshman Marcel Brooks and junior Justin Thomas to see added reps in practice this week and in the game against Northwestern State.
"Marcel played very well," Orgeron said. "That hit he made on the quarterback showed his speed and his toughness. We're going to use him more in our green package, especially if K'Lavon can't play this week. We'll start him in our green package and let him rush."
"Justin is our most athletic inside guy. Justin played very well. You'll see more of Justin Thomas, especially on third down. He can make a guard miss up and under. We need to put more speed on the field in pass rush. So those guys can help us."
How long LSU goes with the starters is anyone's guess at the moment, but a chance to see new faces make an impact will be a big part of evaluating Saturday night's game.