To say that Dwayne Thomas had flourished in the last season-plus in his newfound roles as the team's dime back and then nickel back would be an understatement.
The redshirt sophomore from New Orleans overtook Micah Eugene in 2013 to earn significant playing time, rewarding the coaching staff with four tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defended and two forced fumbles.
Through four games in 2014 Thomas was on an even more torrid pace, ranking top five on the team in major defensive categories including total tackles (24), tackles for loss (2.5), sacks (1.5) and interceptions (one). He also recovered a fumble and registered a pair of quarterback hurries and passes defended.
Now that word is out that Thomas is expected to be done for the season with a torn right ACL, an injury sustained early in the New Mexico State game, the Tiger defense must replace a key cog before taking the field in Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night against No. 5 Auburn and a high-powered offensive attack.
According to senior safety Ronald Martin, there's not going to be any replacement-by-committee. Martin said there's one man for the job, and he's a true freshman.
"We're going to miss him a lot. Dwayne was a great player, he worked hard, but I think we're still going to be okay with Jamal Adams stepping up and taking his position," Martin explained. "I think he's going to do a great job of keeping the intensity up and the pace up as Dwayne would."
As for situations when John Chavis wants to go to his six-DB Mustang package ...
"When we go to Mustang, Jalen Mills is still going to go to the nickel and Jamal will go the dime," continued Martin. "It's going to help us out a lot to get Jamal more playing experience."
Adams entered LSU this summer as the No. 1 safety prospect in the Class of 2014 by Scout.com. The five-star from Lewisville, Tex., has notched 18 tackles in the team's first five games of the season.