Position coach: Brick Haley
Starters returning: 0
Lettermen returning: 4
90 Michael Brockers (6-6, 310, So.)
77 Josh Downs (6-1, 287, Jr.)
OFF THE BENCH
56 Anthony Johnson (6-3, 310, Fr.)
9 Ego Ferguson (6-3, 283, RS Fr.)
93 Bennie Logan (6-3, 287, So.)
97 Dennis Johnson (6-2, 285, Sr.)
96 Mickey Johnson (6-1, 312, Fr.)
95 Quentin Thomas (6-3, 279, Fr.)
Out of action: None
Veteran difference-maker: Michael Brockers
Rising star: Freshman Anthony Johnson
Something to chew on: Johnson has always had plans of playing during his freshman year of college, which is why he graduated last December from O. Perry Walker High in New Orleans and enrolled at LSU in January – in time to spend the entire spring semester working out with the football team. With Johnson set to see significant action as early as week one, good planning has evidently paid off.
Numbers of note: 1. That’s the total number of starts that the defensive tackle rotation has under their belts headed into the season (credit Michael Brockers for getting the nod last fall against Alabama). There are plenty of promising names to go around, but at this point Haley doesn’t have many proven bodies.
This unit will shine if: Josh Downs can stay healthy. Brockers appears ready for the big time, and if Johnson plays anything like he did in high school and these past two camps at LSU, then the Tigers will add a second versatile body to the front group. But can Downs contribute through 13 games to give the Tigers the three-some? If he can manage, then the unit could surprise teams hoping to expose the middle of the LSU defense.
This unit will struggle if: Michael Brockers doesn’t live up to expectations. Right now the LSU staff is banking on Brockers as the one constant in their quest for a dominant interior. If he falters, the Tigers lose their biggest hope for a run-stopper up front.
Prediction: Brockers will perform as expected, and Johnson will get adjusted to the level of play quickly enough to earn a mid-season start. If the next bodies in line – namely Ego Ferguson – can step up and surprise with their play, then the Tigers have quality depth for not just season – but the next few years.
Quotable: “(Anthony Johnson’s) very, very talented and when we were here last year no one would have predicted what Tyrann Mathieu would do for us last season. At his position I think he’s close to being as talented as Tyrann was at his position.” – John Chavis