USA Today/Derick E. Hingle

Sione Teuhema, Deondre Clark must earn time

LSU defensive ends Sione Teuhema, Deondre Clark must earn playing time after not dressing against McNeese State.

LSU defensive ends Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark did not dress Saturday in what should've been the Tigers' season opener.

Les Miles didn't provide much explanation Monday when asked why the two sophomores weren't ready for play against McNeese State. He did say it's possible the two are again left off the eligible squad when the Tigers face Mississippi State on Saturday.

"I'm not certain," Miles said. "It depends on if they earn their way there."

But what exactly must they do to "earn" that right?

Miles said LSU plays its "best players." If Teuhema and Clark are two of the best players, then they'll "step in there and go."

That clearly wasn't the case over the weekend. Miles said it was "performance based," but that doesn't line up with past history. Players are rarely, if ever, forbidden from dressing for home games simply because they aren't good enough to play. There's no limit to how many can dress for a home game, and players are typically only held out for injury or discipline.

Miles didn't mention any team rules that Teuhema or Clark had violated, but in speaking with other players, it seems there have been issues in practice.

Fellow defensive end Tashawn Bower said he's had to remind both players the importance of attitude during practice.

"I really try to tell them that no one's spot is guaranteed, nothing is ever set in stone," Bower said. "I've seen players move up the depth chart just from practicing better, and that's what they have to do."

Their issues have left a position group already lacking in experience even thinner. No defensive end on LSU's roster has started a game, and the Tigers are still without freshman Isaiah Washington, who injured his arm during preseason practices.

Teuhema and Clark combined for only 13 tackles in 2014, but they were expected to crack the rotation this season behind starters Bower and Lewis Neal. Without them, LSU's left with only four eligible defensive ends on the roster.

Maybe that number will increase to six this weekend.

LSU returned to practice Monday, and Bower said he did notice improvements in the way Teuhema and Bower conducted themselves.

“There are some mistakes they’ve made, but those are all correctable things," Bower said. "We have a whole week ahead, and I hope they’ve done the right things to correct it.”

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