DEPTH CHART: Our best guess

With two-a-day practices officially in the books and the Tigers beginning preparations for the season opener versus Louisiana-Lafayette, we take a look at the LSU Football team position by position. Here it goes.

This is our best guess at a depth chart. This is who we think has looked good, who has underachieved, who will be running with the ones and the scoop on most everybody else.


But before we begin, this is what we do know for sure.


Heading into the third week of practice, there are still three true freshmen who haven't made it through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Coach Les Miles still awaits word on running backs Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy as well as offensive lineman Steven Singleton.


The one newcomer who did get the stamp of approval from the NCAA – defensive tackle Al Woods – arrived in great shape and may play a factor in the upcoming season.


Following Saturday's first full scrimmage, quarterback JaMarcus Russell has set the bar high as the player to beat as LSU's signal caller. We told you he is older, wiser and very determined to prove his detractors wrong. At Saturday's 110-snap scrimmage inside Tiger Stadium, Russell's performance sent the message the 6-6, 255-pound junior is on a mission.


We know running back Alley Broussard is almost healthy, but a bit overweight as he attempts to come back from last year's knee injury. Justin Vincent has picked up Broussard's slack and freshman Charles Scott has emerged as a legitimate player in the Tiger backfield.


The wide receiving corps was deep with talent heading into Fall Camp. No one could have dreamed they would be this good coming out of camp.


The offensive line remains the major question mark for this team. While Miles has praised several of the Tigers big guys, there are still questions concerning depth.


Before camp started, there were plenty of questions surrounding the defensive line, much like the offensive front. Those questions have all but gone by the wayside. The Tigers are talented, look deeper than ever across the defensive front four and have a strong leader among them leading the charge.


Maybe the second greatest question mark about this team is the linebacking corps. While defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is raving about his first three linebackers – Darry Beckwith, Luke Sanders and Ali Highsmith – there is hardly no depth at all at the position and Pelini will rely on a bevy of freshmen to contribute.


The secondary, like the wide receivers, running backs and defensive line, is loaded. Talent abound, this unit is progressing just as everyone had expected.


Now that you know what we know, we'll break down the Tigers briefly by position.





While there are more than enough Matt Flynn supporters out there, there was just as many people speculating that this could be the year of JaMarcus Russell.


He took a huge step in that direction in last Saturday's scrimmage.


Russell is leading the offense with lots of poise, leadership and that cannon of a right arm he carries with him.


It is obvious Russell is the man with Flynn and ultra-talented redshirt freshman Ryan Perrilloux trailing behind. In terms of who is closer to whom in terms of the depth chart. Russell is all alone at the top and Flynn is actually closer to Perrilloux than he is to overtaking Russell.


And while some critics say Miles and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher have a quandary with three talented quarterbacks competing for the same job, it actually is proving to be a good problem to have.



Running Backs


The biggest concern among Tiger fans throughout Fall Camp has been the health of Alley Broussard.


Broussard appears to be healthy in practice. He has been seen running, cutting and catching balls out of the backfield, and aside from a little weight around the middle, Broussard looks fine.


But he was held out of several workouts last week, a move Miles called a precautionary measure, and he got just a half-dozen snaps in Saturday's first major scrimmage.


While Charles Scott has emerged as major factor in the Tigers backfield after just two weeks, the reps are still being distributed at tailback to Justin Vincent, Jacob Hester, Broussard then Scott.


Miles has said Scott "will contribute at running back as a freshman."


Antonio Robinson is also a capable running back who can play and who knows about the ability of Keiland Williams when he arrives.






Jacob Hester is the first team fullback, but Miles likes his abilities at tailback. Hester got several carries in Saturday's scrimmage at tailback, but don't expect him to get a great deal of carries at that position during the season.


Steve Korte is another physical player who might get a carry or two from the fullback position. Shawn Jordan is big and physical, but will never be anything more than a blocker.


Linebacker turned fullback Quinn Johnson has looked impressive so far in camp and has displayed solid skills in catching balls out of the backfield.



Wide Receiver


Everybody knew how good Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucet were going into camp. Bowe and Davis are proven while Doucet has the opportunity to grow into an every down receiver for LSU as a junior, now that Skyler Green is gone.


People talked about the Tigers depth at this position, but past the first three, the talent was unproven.


But after two weeks of practice, Brandon LaFell has emerged as a big-play threat as the fourth receiver and true freshmen wide receivers Jared Mitchell, Chris Mitchell and Ricky Dixon have all proven they are ready to play at this level.


And while Trindon Holliday is a bit on the small side and will be used primarily as the Tigers' kick returner, the little man has a good set of hands as well.



Offensive Line


Miles has stayed committed to the offensive line lineup he quoted in our Tiger Rag Football Preview.


From left to right, redshirt freshman Ciron Black will line up at left tackle, all-American Will Arnold at left guard, Brett Helms at center, Brian Johnson at right guard and Peter Dyakowski at right tackle.


Black drew praise from Miles after Saturday's scrimmage, as did Helms at center. Miles did say Ryan Miller has proved he will get valuable snaps at center as well.


Arnold missed Saturday's scrimmage with an injury and "Big" Herman Johnson filled in at left guard. Johnson and Dyakowski seem to be fairly solid on the right side of the line.


The only serious injury on the offensive line to report is backup guard Paris Hodges sprained his right knee in the first week of drills and will be out several weeks.



Tight End


Keith Zinger, who is both a capable blocker and receiver, will be the first team tight end.


However, the Tigers have a number of talented tight ends.


Mit Cole, Kyle Anderson and Andrew Wright all three will get reps. Doug Planchard, who is listed as a reserve center as well as a tight end, is more likely to play on the offensive line.


True freshman Richard Dickson caught a touchdown pass in Saturday's scrimmage and might play. But the other newcomer, J.D. Lott, is most probably headed for a redshirt.



Defensive Line


The defensive line has gotten lots of attention so far through Fall Camp. When one speaks of the Tigers' defensive front, the conversation always begins with Glenn Dorsey.


Dorsey is being tabbed as LSU's next great defensive lineman – and he is living up to the hype. Miles has praised Dorsey stating he has been virtually unblockable in the two live-action sessions so far this August.


But the defensive line just begins with Dorsey, who has one starting tackle spot locked down. Chase Pittman, who was more of an under-the-radar type player in the past, is growing into a leadership role at one end. Ryan Willis is shaping up to be his backup.


Tyson Jackson, Tim Washington and Rickey Jean-Francois are battling it out at the other end with Jackson having a slight lead. Washington was slowed a bit with an injury last week. Lyle Hitt could play as well.


Jean-Francois could move inside and play at the other tackle spot, but he will have to battle Charles Alexander and Marlon favorite for that spot. Both Alexander and Favorite have made strong cases why they should start next to Dorsey.


Then you toss in true freshmen Lazarius "Pep" Levingston and Al Woods. Both of these young pups are physically imposing players with lots of strength and speed. Don't be surprised to see one or both of these guys on the field this year.


Where in years past the defensive line has featured star players, this year it looks to be shaping up to be defensive line by committee.





As stated earlier, defensive coordinator Bo Pelini likes his linebacking corps.


The starting three backers – Beckwith, Sanders and Highsmith – are as good as any linebackers you will find. But, with Jason Spadoni – a converted fullback – as your fourth linebacker, that could pose a problem from a depth standpoint.


However, true freshmen Jacob Cutrera, Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard and Derrick Odom all look to be ahead of the game and that's a good thing, because all four of these players are likely to be thrown into the fire at some point early in the season.



Defensive Backs


As shallow as the pool is with the linebackers, the defensive secondary is the polar opposite.


The starting lineup is set with LaRon Landry and Jesse Daniels securing the safety spots and Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon locking down the corners.


But what makes the LSU secondary the best in the nation is its depth. At any time, coach Doug Mallory could rotate one of almost a dozen players in and out and find a good combination.


Veterans Sammy Joseph, Daniel Francis, Curtis Taylor, Craig Steltz, Chris Hawkins and Harry Coleman will all be used as reserves as well as nickel and dime backs at some point. Taylor has had an excellent Fall Camp and has the size and frame to be an impact player in the defensive backfield. Newcomers Jai Eugene, Danny McCray, Troy Giddens and Tyson Andrus have all been mentioned as well in Fall Camp. It is likely Eugene, who has been slowed by a broken thumb, Giddens and McCray could play as true freshmen either in the secondary or on special teams. Andrus is likely to redshirt after transferring from Ole Miss.



Special Teams


Chris Jackson has the starting punting and kickoff duties locked down. However, Miles did say they haven't settled on a field goal kicker just yet. Jackson has been above average kicking field goals, but Miles has said it isn't good to put all of your eggs in one basket with Jackson doing all three.


Colt David will likely return to his job kicking extra points and short field goals and will compete with Ryan Gaudet as the Tigers full-time place kicker.


A number of players will return kicks including Daniel Francis, Chevis Jackson and Early Doucet. But Trindon Holliday is most likely to become LSU's featured kick returner, a la Skyler Green.

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