Projected starter Quentin Thomas is expected to miss the entire 2014 season with a torn bicep.
LSU confirmed Friday that Thomas has suffered an injury but refused to comment on what type of injury or how long he'd be out. The Advocate reported that the defensive tackle tore his bicep during practice Wednesday and will miss the entire season.
Thomas saw his most extensive playing time as a redshirt sophomore in 2013. He played in 11 games, started one and registered nine tackles with a pair of pass breakups.
After Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson departed early for the NFL, Thomas was expected to take over the reins at defensive tackle.
His loss is a tough blow for the Tigers at a position where they were already lacking depth and experience. Les Miles will not meet with the media until Sunday to discuss the ramifications of the injury, though some of Thomas' position mates provided their take after practice Friday.
"He's a great friend of mine," said Christian Lacouture, who was expected to start alongside Thomas. "I felt terrible when I heard about it. Somebody's got to step up."
Though the players were told not to comment on the specifics of Thomas' injury, they did discuss how LSU will respond.
LaCouture remains firmly entrenched in LSU's projected starting lineup. The sophomore played in all 13 games in his first season with LSU, registering 11 tackles. LaCouture has received rave reviews throughout camp as a leader of a young group of defensive tackles.
More pressure will fall on him now that the only player with more experience than him will have to watch the 2014 season from the sideline.
"I'm just going to try to help the young guys," LaCouture said. "They're my teammates, my brothers. If they need any extra help, I'll help them."
Behind LaCouture are a trio of redshirt freshmen that entered camp competing for a spot in the rotation. Now they'll be battling for a place in the starting lineup.
Frank Herron, Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore all signed with LSU in the 2013 recruiting class. All three were rated four-star prospects or higher, serving as the foundation for one of the best classes of defensive linemen in the country.
Herron seems to be the leader in the clubhouse to replace Thomas. He worked with the first-team defense in his absence Friday.
Herron came to LSU as the No. 5 defensive end in the country in 2013, but moved inside to provide a bit more depth at a position where LSU was lacking. Les Miles called him a "beast" earlier this week, and LaCouture echoed those sentiments.
"He's really been working hard, keeping his mouth shut," LaCouture said. "He's trying to do the things he needs to do."
Bain and Gilmore are also firmly in the discussion. Bain ranked as the No. 32 defensive tackle in the country in 2013. Gilmore was a five-star prospect, ranked No. 5 at his position.
Now it's time for that vaunted 2013 signing class to step up on the field.
"Everyday we work hard," Bain said. "We came in together. We push each other to the utmost. It's up to Coach Brick and Coach Miles who will get that starting position."
LSU also expects to bolster that depth next week. 2014 signee Travonte Valentine anticipates to receive his clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center on Tuesday, which would free him to report to campus. Fellow 2014 recruit Davon Godchaux has also been competing at defensive tackle through the first week of camp.
That position was already one of LSU's biggest question marks entering fall camp. Thomas' injury only amplifies that, but LaCouture said he's confident that he and his teammates will pick up the slack.
"I feel they're ready," he said. "We have to work on some little things here and there. Whatever we need to do, we'll do that before Wisconsin."
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Quentin Thomas out with injury
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