LSU still settling starting offensive line

Left guard now the most competitive position after Ethan Pocic's move back to center.

LSU still hasn’t settled on its starting offensive line for next week’s season opener.

It’s not because the Tigers haven’t found enough players to handle the responsibility. It’s because they have too many options.

“There’s a competition at every position,” said junior Ethan Pocic. “That’s how we take it everyday. No one’s spot is guaranteed. We know that, and that helps us get better.”

Despite what Pocic says, there are some spots on the line that are locked up — Jerald Hawkins at left tackle, Vadal Alexander at right tackle and Josh Boutte at right guard. The other two positions are still subject to change.

LSU opened fall camp with Pocic as the No. 1 left guard next to redshirt freshman William Clapp at center. Those two have swapped spots in the last week, with Pocic sliding back to where he started several games a year ago.

It seems the coaches have more confidence in the veteran Pocic to handle the center position.

“Center has to make the points, identify the fronts for the whole O-Line,” Pocic said. “Whoever it is, you’ve just got to be prepared every week. Do everything in the film room and be prepared for anything.”

If Pocic sticks at center, that leaves left guard as the most competitive position left on the line.

Clapp seems the favorite as he worked as the first team left guard in LSU’s last scrimmage. He’s spent just about all of preseason practice with the starters at one of the three interior positions.

“I’ve been getting reps all over the place right now,” Clapp said. “You’ve just got to stay focused, take one rep at a time…They train me and Ethan to play the interior three. We’re pretty interchangeable.”

Maea Teuhema's pushing for playing time as a freshman

While Clapp’s the projected starter, there are several close behind vying to unseat him.

K.J. Malone’s the most veteran among them. He’s worked at both tackle and guard this preseason and is probably one of LSU’s most versatile linemen. Clapp’s biggest challenger though may be true freshman Maea Teuhema.

His emergence has been a hot topic these last couple weeks. He started camp at right tackle, moved to right guard and has found a new home on the left side of the line.

“Maea’s very smart,” Pocic said. “He picked it up real quick. He’s just a natural with footwork. He’s learning, just a freshman so no pressure for him, but we have high expectations.”

Teuhema’s not likely to start next Saturday against McNeese State, but he seems likely to at least play this year. He may just be LSU’s sixth offensive linemen at this point, the next man up in case of injury.

Whatever combination LSU ultimately settles on will be alright with Pocic.

“I just want to play football,” he said.


There are other positions still unsettled across LSU's roster. Here's a look at the biggest ongoing position battles.

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