Those questions were answered as a young group of big men stepped-up gelling into one of the best offensive fronts in the SEC.
The entire left side of the Tigers front line is back as well as their center. LSU did lose the starting right side with the departure of Peter Dyakowski and Brian Johnson, but will have veteran backups to serve as replacements.
A preseason all-American heading into the 2006 season, Will Arnold missed much of last year with ankle and knee injuries. He sat out most of spring drills as well as the LSU Spring Game. However, the 2005 second-team All-SEC selection is slated to take over the right guard spot this fall and not miss a beat from where he was heading into the 2006 campaign.
"He's had surgery, he's healthy and he's working hard," offensive coordinator Gary Crowton said. "He'll be back in the mix."
The Sporting News feels
Taking over for Dyakowski at right
tackle will be converted defender, senior Carnell Stewart. Stewart, in his
second-year on the O-line, joins
One of the Tigers biggest surprises – no pun intended – in 2006 came in the shape of the 6-5, 314-pound Ciron Black.
Black won the starting spot as a redshirt freshman and started every game in 2006 on his way to being named to the Sporting News' SEC All-Freshman Team as well as being a member of the 2006 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.
The only man who could make Black look small is the player who lines up next to him, junior Herman Johnson.
When Johnson signed with the Tigers he weighed close to 400 pounds. Now at a 6-7 and a slender 351 pounds, Johnson, who is the biggest player to ever play for the Tigers, will again be a force to be reckoned with at left guard.
The man in the middle of the line again will be junior Brett Helms.
Helms was listed as the starter at left guard going into the 2005 season, but nagging injuries kept him from finishing the season. In 2006, the Arkansas native beat-out fellow junior Ryan Miller for the starting center spot and has been there ever since.
Another linemen looking to see the
field in 2007 is
Hitt will be slated at the No. 2
guard spot this season and could see early action as
The 6-2, 284-pound Hitt played on
the defensive line at
- Keith Claverie
2007 OFFENSIVE LINE
53 T-Bob Hebert OL 6-3 260 Fr. HS Norcross, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian HS)
57 Richard Dugas C 6-0 250 Fr. RS Lincoln,
59 Cole Louviere OL 6-5 286 Jr. SQ River Ridge, La. (Archbishop Rummel HS)
61 Trey Helms OL 6-4 265 Fr. HS Stuttgart,
62 Robert Smith OL 6-2 263 Jr. 1L
63 Ryan Miller C 6-6 318 Jr. 1L
64 Matt Allen OL 6-3 285 Fr. RS Spring,
65 Lyle Hitt OG 6-2 284 So. SQ
66 Max Holmes OL 6-4 281 So. SQ
67 Mark Snyder OL 6-7 284 Fr. RS Kenner,
68 Josh Dworaczyk OL 6-6 275 Fr. HS New Iberia, La. (Catholic-New Iberia HS)
70 Ciron Black OT 6-5 314 So. 1L
71 Carnell Stewart OL 6-5 311 Sr. 1L River
74 Brett Helms C 6-2 283 Jr. 2L
76 Jarvis Jones OL 6-6 265 Fr. HS Rosenburg, Texas (Lamar Consolidated HS)
77 Ernest McCoy OL 6-5 333 Fr. HS Belle
78 Joseph Barksdale OT 6-6 315 Fr. HS
79 Herman Johnson OL 6-7 351 Jr. 2L Olla,
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Returning Starters: OG Herman Johnson, C Brett Helms, OG Will Arnold, OT Ciron Black
Departed Starters: OT Peter Dyakowski, OG Brian Johnson
Projected New Starters: OT Carnell
Wildcard: Stewart played his entire high school career on the defensive line and came to LSU as a D-end. However, a lack of playing time on the defensive front helped orchestrate a move to the offensive line. Stewart saw action on the offensive front last season, the question now is he ready to be a starter.
Rising Star: Black made quite a splash at left tackle last season and projects to be LSU's next heralded offensive lineman.
Most Improved: Lyle Hitt, like Stewart, made the move from defensive line to offense last season. He is slated as a No. 2 guard heading into August camp. Could Hitt crack the starting lineup come September?
Top Newcomer: Incoming freshman Ernest McCoy has the body (6-6, 333) to be a star for LSU. Can he contribute in his rookie season, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton thinks so.
Top NFL Prospect: Considering
Extra Points: Incoming freshman T-Bob
Hebert is the son of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert… Will
TIGER RAG LAGNIAPPE
Isn't it amazing how players
seem to shrink once they arrive on campus? Herman Johnson was touted as the
largest player ever to sign with LSU. When he was recruited out of
- Matt Deville