It's time to see what spring football yielded for LSU.
I released my last projected depth chart on TSD the final day of February, two weeks before the Tigers kicked off spring practice. More than two months later, and with the benefit of having seen 15 practices and a spring game, I've re-evaluated LSU's personnel and pieced together an up-to-date depth chart.
CLICK HERE to access yesterday's offensive depth chart.
Today we'll run through the LSU defense.
A few notes in advance: The depth chart below only includes players who were enrolled and participated in spring ball. Non-early enrollees from the Class of 2013 will not be found, but I have added sections that identify the biggest areas of need for those players arriving in the summer … Commas between players designate a jump from first string to second string to third string, etc. … Finally, the year in parentheses behind each player denotes his class standing for the 2013 season.
DE: Jermauria Rasco (Jr.), Christian Lacouture (Fr.), Ronnie Feist (So.)
DT: Anthony Johnson (Jr.), Mickey Johnson (So.)
DT: Ego Ferguson (Jr.), Quentin Thomas (So.)
DE: Jordan Allen (Jr.), Danielle Hunter (So.)
WLB: Lamin Barrow (Sr.), Kwon Alexander (So.), Lorenzo Phillips (R-Fr.)
MLB: D.J. Welter (Jr.), Lamar Louis (So.), Trey Granier (R-Fr.)
SLB: Tahj Jones (Sr.), Deion Jones (So.)
CB: Jalen Mills (So.), Kavahra Holmes (R-Fr.) AND Derrick Raymond (R-Fr.)
FS: Ronald Martin (Jr.), Corey Thompson (So.)
SS: Craig Loston (Sr.), Jerqwinick Sandolph (So.)*
CB: Jalen Collins (So.), Dwayne Thomas (R-Fr.)
* = Sophomore Micah Eugene is also in the mix at safety but primarily plays in the box as a nickel and dime back. He also saw time as a straight corner this spring with injuries mounting at the position.
- It would be an understatement to say there wasn't a lot of depth along the defensive line this spring. Early enrollee Christian LaCouture, who can play both end and tackle, ended spring as the team's third bookend after Jermauria Rasco's shoulder injury. John Chavis also moved Ronnie Feist down to end, a move that lessened the logjam at linebacker but also helped the paper-thin depth issue up front a touch. It should also be noted that senior walk-on A'Trey-U Jones made some headway this spring at defensive tackle and would be considered for time right behind or maybe even right in line with Mickey Johnson.
- Until Chief shows his hand differently, we'll recognize D.J. Welter as the starting Mike linebacker. He is the most experienced option Chavis could throw out there and gives LSU a redshirt junior in the middle next to a pair of redshirt juniors at outside linebacker. Lamar Louis is listed next at middle linebacker, but any non-injury-related shift in starters would more likely entail Lamin Barrow moving inside and another player, probably Kwon Alexander, filling his shoes on the weakside.
- In the secondary, there are two caveats worth exploring. First, I'm not sure any of the trio of Kavahra Holmes, Derrick Raymond or Dwayne Thomas is field-ready yet for LSU, especially in the SEC. Look for one of that grouping, all of whom are about neck and neck at this point, to distinguish himself beginning in Fall Camp and compete for the job of third cornerback with a true freshman … Second, Corey Thompson is listed as the backup free safety, but he would enter the game at either safety spot in the event of an injury to Ronald Martin or Craig Loston.
- Finally, let's take a look at LSU's current nickel and dime packages. It's reasonable at this point to assume that in a 4-2-5 nickel, Welter would come out and Eugene would sub in as the nickel back. In 3-2-6 dime and Mustang sets, a defensive tackle (probably Ego Ferguson) and linebacker (Welter) come out while two defensive backs – Eugene and maybe Thompson or Loston – come into the box. The Tigers also showed a new package this spring under Chavis, the 3-3-5. Again a defensive tackle would come out and Eugene would come in, almost serving as a fourth linebacker who can blitz/cover from the slot.
- The most obvious shift from my last depth chart in February is Welter manning the middle with Barrow staying in his customary weakside role from a season ago.
- There were two movements of sorts on the defensive line. The first saw Jordan Allen put his nose ahead of Danielle Hunter at the defensive end spot opposite Rasco. The second was Ferguson distancing himself from Quentin Thomas to outright win the second starting tackle spot for now.
- Finally Louis is now strictly working out at middle linebacker, as opposed to cross-training on the weakside, where I had him listed on the second team prior to spring ball.
Freshmen Impact Alert
- These three areas of need are glaring, not only in terms of adding depth but, in most cases, in the name of identifying rotational or platoon players. They are defensive end, defensive tackle and cornerback. The good news for LSU fans is that a boatload of talented freshmen defensive linemen is coming this summer. At end Brick Haley will have his choice of Tashawn Bower and Frank Herron to round out his two-deep rotation, along with Lewis Neal and Michael Patterson as developmental players. At tackle Haley can choose from Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain. And then there's LaCouture, who's already on campus and has shined at both line positions. On an island the newcomer to monitor has to be Tre'Davious White. Big things are expected from White right away, and his emergence would be paramount, from allowing Jalen Mills to play in the box in nickel and dime sets to squashing concerns that Holmes, Raymond and Thomas will be needed for big minutes. At the end of the day, White may be the most important freshman on the team in 2013.
Updated Depth Chart: Defense
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