Logan's coming out party

Defensive tackle Bennie Logan broke onto the scene against Oregon, giving LSU depth at a much-needed position.

For most athletes, the leadup to a first collegiate start can send the nerves into overdrive, and lost sleep is a given – especially during game week.

LSU sophomore defensive tackle Bennie Logan, who earned his first start against Oregon last week, had the luxury of skipping those restless nights.

With Michael Brockers penned in as one starting tackle, Logan figured junior Josh Downs – who had played in 23 games in two seasons with the Tigers – would get the nod at the opposite spot.

But before the Tigers began pre-game warmups, defensive line coach Brick Haley told Logan that he would be in the starting 11 for the first snap of the new season.

Until then, Logan had mostly been on the conversation backburner when talking the defensive line – mostly because he had appeared in only three games in two seasons, and he was behind two tackles with more than a season’s experience a piece and a five-star prospect – Anthony Johnson – that could arguably be one of the nation’s best freshman interior lineman.

“I really wasn’t gearing for a start this year,” Logan said. “I was just gearing up to contribute to the team in any way I can.”

Truth be told, the tipping point came during the final weeks of fall camp, when coaches often say the men separate themselves from the boys.

“He came in and was a ways away from getting onto the field,” head coach Les Miles said. “He plays hard and pursues it with a passion. You can see the want to improve in his eyes.

“As we went through two-a-day camp, it was obvious with the way he prepared in the summer and in the spring, that he deserved snaps.”

Logan, a Coushatta native and Red River High graduate, said he had always dreamed of the day he would start at LSU, so it comes as no surprise that the two-time Class 2A All-State selection made the most of the moment.

Against one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, Logan turned in four tackles and a pass breakup, and more importantly, helped shut down the interior for LSU, which forced Oregon to go to the air and helped secure an opening-game Tigers win.

“It was going on my third year, so I figured it was time for me to step up and be the player I needed to be and I can be,” Logan said.

“We watched film so long. We watched these guys and watched these guys and watched these guys. So when it was time to play them, the first snap of the game me and (Brockers) came to the sideline and said that these boys couldn’t block us.

“Every series we came off the field we told each other to turn it up a notch. We had them beat by 20 points, but we wanted to play like we were down. That’s the mindset now.”

The adopted mindset fits well with Logan, who has made a habit of exceeding expectations on the field.

In high school Logan played second fiddle to Chris Davenport, a five-star defensive tackle out of Mansfield. The two shared the District 3-2A Defensive MVP honors as seniors, and then shared reps on the LSU line in the years that followed.

It might have been Davenport that recruitniks were most excited about, but it was Logan who lasted on the defensive line.

Last spring, Davenport was permanently moved to the offensive line, where he has taken reps at left tackle with the second- and third-team units.

And for Logan, it was a battle that came outside his comfort zone.

“I was being recruited as a defensive end, but when I had my first camp here they were short on d-tackles, and (Haley) told me someone had to move to d-tackle,” he said. “I really liked coming here, so whatever I could do to help the team, I was willing to do it.

“I knew it was going to be different because you had bigger guys at guard and you would be double-teamed, because at end you are on an island. You just have to work on gaining weight.”

So Logan did just that.

“I came in around 250-260, and I weigh 290 now,” Logan said. “I feel better than I did last year. This summer I got down to 285 so I could do the training and conditioning, and when the season came I wanted to put on a little weight, but not much. I weighed in the other day at 293.

“I feel good running, not like I did last season when I was short on breath. I worked more on my conditioning.”

One redshirt and two years later, Logan is getting his chance – which puts a smile on the face of his head coach.

“I am excited about him,” Miles said. “Bennie is a young man from this state that got onto the radar later in recruiting.

“It is the right kind of guy that makes our team what we are supposed to be. Work hard, come to practice and improve, and then you get an opportunity to play. When you do get to play, then you play well.”

For LSU, a team that lost two senior starters from the middle of the line, Logan’s emergence can’t be understated.

It’s unfair to expect the Tigers to replace the impact – on and off the field – of Drake Nevis, but Logan gives LSU a reliable run-stopper next to Brockers. Perhaps more importantly, Logan’s emergence allows Haley to pick and choose the times to use Josh Downs, one the defensive tackle position’s best pass-rushers but also one of the most injury-prone Tigers.

It also bides time for the development of Johnson, who can be both a run stuffer and a pass rusher.

“We just have to be our own player,” Logan said. “We have to give the team what we can give them.

“I think we did a good job. I think I have things I need to work on, like polishing my technique. I am not where I want to be, but that’s why we still have practices.”

Prior to the Oregon game, Brockers told reporters that if Logan practiced like he played then he would be great.

If the practices keep going as they have, then Logan has a lot of football coming his way on Saturdays this fall.

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