Depth chart clarified at Tuesday practice

The release of the "official" depth chart from LSU for Sunday's game against Virginia Tech raised a few eyebrows on Monday, but Tuesday's practice provided some clarification on which players will probably been in line for playing time.

LSU's latest release accurately reflects some of the shuffling along the defensive line since the last scrimmage. Head coach Nick Saban said after the Tigers' scrimmage last Thursday he was hoping to see some of the second-string players play as though they were starters. The moves made might be his way of getting better players into the mix.

Brandon Hurley has moved from tackle to end and was practicing behind Marcus Spears on Tuesday. Ryan Willis was moved from end back to Sam linebacker and is vying for playing time with Eric Alexander behind starter Jeremy Lawrence.

In the secondary, the depth chart may not be a very handy guide since a number of players are being trained at multiple positions in order to bolster a secondary that already has good depth. Cornerbacks Randall Gay and Travis Daniels have been used as safeties over the past week in some of the Tigers' nickel and dime packages. They will play corner most of the time but are apparently benefiting from the cross-training.

"I know every position back there so that helps out a lot in case somebody goes down," said Gay. "…Coach (Saban) said he doesn't want a situation like last year when Tiger (Lionel Thomas) got hurt. Norman (LeJeune) hadn't been practicing safety that much, and he just threw him out there. Norman responded well, but he wants somebody else to know what they're doing in case something happens."

Gay says he finds safety a lot easier than cornerback because he can make reads from a distance. He's said as much to starting free safety Damien James, who has also played at cornerback.

"At corner, you're up in a man's face," Gay explained. "You're jamming and as soon as you look up, the ball is in your face and you have to react quick. At safety, you can read everything and break on the ball. In the scrimmage when I got the interception, I was like, ‘Man, this is a lot easier than cornerback.'"

Gay's pass defense opportunities may be held to a minimum Sunday since Virginia Tech's offense tends to keep the ball on the ground. However, the secondary will have to help out on run defense against the Hokies' double-barrel backfield of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones.

"They have good backs," said cornerback Demetrius Hookfin. "We've got to stop them up front, and we have to do what we need to do on the backside in the secondary."

When asked whether Suggs and Jones were one of the best running tandems he would have to defend, Hookfin said he sees a better one on a regular basis.

"A back is a back," said Hookfin. "We've got to go out there and bust them up a little bit. Anybody can have a good back on their team. We've got two good backs. I consider our backs the best backs that we've ever been up against."

Rejoining Gay, Hookfin and the rest of the defensive backs on Tuesday was freshman cornerback Keron Gordon. The cornerback from Tampa, Fla., put on full gear and resumed practice for the first time since in two weeks after injuring his knee.

Freshman offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski was also back working with the team following treatment of a staph infection on his right lower leg. He had missed most of the last week because of the pain associated with the ailment.

Freshman safety Jeff Cook (sternum) and freshman corner Vernon Russell (ankle) did not practice on Tuesday.

The media was offered about 30 minutes of practice time during which the Tigers went through a drill that called for them to strip the ball away from a player and make the fumble recovery. Saban noted that Virginia Tech was able to capitalize on the turnover opportunities Arkansas State allowed, and he wants his team to win that battle when they face the Hokies.

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