Debuting a new staple feature on TigerSportsDigest, here is my first of many "Read and React" pieces that allow me to state and recap the news of the week, then analyze what each of those tidbits means for the present and future of LSU sports.
- LT Chris Faulk is finished for the 2012 season.
Not a huge shocker here. Many had speculated and a few had even reported this news in the last few weeks before Les Miles officially confirmed it Wednesday night.
Faulk, who suffered a major knee injury in practice the Tuesday following LSU's North Texas opener, is in his redshirt junior season. Even though he only played in one game in 2012, it's unlikely the NCAA will grant Faulk a medical redshirt as he already used a redshirt for advantage in the 2009 season. To procure a medical redshirt, the onus would be on the Tigers' coaching staff to prove Faulk was injured in 2009, not just sitting out to prepare in his first year on campus.
REACTION: On the field, Miles & Co. have been dealing with replacing Faulk for the last three weeks. So there's nothing new with this confirmation, just more of a permanent feel to Faulk's absence this season.
What's more interesting is the affect this will have on Faulk returning in 2013 for a fifth and final season. From the people I've talked with recently, it seems likely at this point that Faulk will come back and play his senior season at LSU, allowing him time to show more to the scouts and prove he's over the injury. Before this season started, I'm not sure the smart money was on Faulk being around in 2013.
- RB Alfred Blue is likely looking at the same fate.
This was the more surprising of the two proclamations from Miles on Wednesday, although it still wasn't a complete stunner. The best-case scenario for Blue, who suffered a knee injury in the Idaho game, was always 3-5 weeks. Rumors behind the scenes, and the way players talked about the injury, always pointed toward more time.
Now, Miles didn't completely bury Blue for this season, as he did Faulk, but LSU's coach did say he wasn't "overly optimistic" about Blue's return in 2012. Blue was in the midst of breaking out as the starting tailback in his true junior season.
REACTION: Again, on-the-field preparations were already underway in replacing Blue, as Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Kenny Hillliard carried the ball, and the mantle for Blue, at Auburn.
As far as possibly entering the 2013 NFL Draft, it may be a different story for Blue than Faulk. When taking into account Blue's family situation (don't forget the fire last year that claimed his family's home) and the logjam in LSU's backfield, it wouldn't be surprising if No. 4 decided to test the waters in April.
- There will be no change to LSU's starting offensive line.
Miles confidently announced that to reporters on Monday, saying he likes the guys LSU currently has in place right now (in the positions they're currently playing). According to Miles, it's more about improving those individuals and their technique than re-shuffling the deck.
His biggest reason not to bring Alex Hurst over to left tackle, replacing Josh Dworaczyk: Miles doesn't want to make a move that will affect the positions of "many," as he told media members Monday. He's definitely reaffirmed his confidence in Dworaczyk at left tackle.
REACTION: There were two ways to go here. One: LSU's coaches could've used the next two weeks to prepare a shift in starters, having the new lineup, one which probably would've included freshman Vadal Alexander at right tackle, ready to roll for Florida. Two: Stay pat, working with the players already in place.
We know now Miles has chosen what's behind door number two. It definitely allows the line to have the most veteran feel possible, with Dworaczyk, a sixth-year senior, out there opposite Hurst, a fellow senior. But Josh D. will have to show leaps and bounds of improvement in pass protection for this move to pay dividends. Look for the Tigers to bring a tight end or running back over to help on the left side with regularity in passing situations.
- Craig Loston and Ronald Martin will continue splitting time at safety.
Starting cornerback Tharold Simon acknowledged as much in an interview Tuesday. The writing had been on the wall, though, for a few weeks.
Martin started in place of Loston versus Idaho, picking off two passes and bringing one back for six. He also featured frequently in nickel and dime sets at Auburn, subbing in for Loston, who was back in the starting lineup on the Plains.
REACTION: I think this is the smartest use of these two vastly different players. Start Loston, a redshirt junior, but bring in Martin, a much better player in coverage, on passing situations.
It's just not likely that Loston will go through an entire season uninjured (technically he already hasn't), and Corey Raymond/John Chavis limiting his exposure through a platoon system like this will squeeze the most from him.
Plus, given some of the early-season issues Loston and Eric Reid have had letting short passes turn into big gains or touchdowns, Martin's presence will fortify LSU's last line of defense. And now Reid can continue taking some chances in the box, as well as playing man defense on slot receivers, with peace of mind with Martin playing the centerfield role.
Read and React
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