Spring Analysis: O-Line

Since Les Miles has been at LSU one of the concerns has always been depth along the offensive line. The headman and his staff have recruited a strong group of offensive linemen the last couple of years but will this unit be two-deep with SEC-caliber talent heading into 2008?

Spring Analysis

 

The knock on Nick Saban when he was at LSU was that he did not recruit enough SEC-caliber offensive linemen.

 

It has taken Les Miles a few years to shore up the talent down in the trenches but the offensive line is stock piled with talented players at every spot on the line.

 

The guys who ran with the first team the majority of the spring from left to right were Ciron Black, Herman Johnson, Brett Helms, Lyle Hitt, and Joseph Barksdale.

 

The left side of the line is as good as you will find anywhere in the SEC with Black and Johnson, and Helms may be the best center in the league for the 2008 campaign.

 

The big question mark was who would take over for Carnell Stewart at right tackle and heading into the summer Barksdale looks to have the inside track.

 

Barksdale is going to make some mistakes on the edge but if he can get them out of the way in the early going and learn from them then that first road start at Auburn would be a lot less intimidating.

 

Having Hitt play next to him will be a big plus for Barksdale at recognizing the blitz and having Jarvis Jones breathing down his neck for that spot will create some healthy competition between the two red-shirt sophomores.

 

The second team o-line may be young but it isn’t short on talent with Ernest McCoy and Jones on the edge, flanked by Ryan Miller and Josh Dworaczyk inside, and T-Bob Hebert at center.

 

When you factor in other guys like Will Blackwell and Matt Allen to the equation then it really becomes obvious just how well Miles, Greg Studawara, and the departed Stacey Searels has shored up an area that was of major concern a couple of years ago.

 

The offensive line may be relied upon heavily in 2008 if one of the inexperienced quarterbacks (Jarrett Lee/Andrew Hatch) is called upon but as long as that right side of the line stays injury free this offense should be able to move the ball on the ground against any team it faces.

 

What’s Next

 

These next few months are going to be important for the younger guys like T-Bob Hebert, Josh Dworaczyk and Jarvis Jones because all three need to add some more weight to their frame to be able to handle the defensive linemen in the SEC.

 

Ernest McCoy and Joseph Barksdale are at good playing weights right now at 333 and 315 pounds, respectively. The staff would like to get McCoy down in the 310-315 range and that will be a focus for this summer’s conditioning drills, while getting stronger will be the focus for Barksdale.

 

LSU signed another good crop of linemen in 2008 in Clay Spencer, Greg Shaw, P.J. Lonergan, Thomas Parsons, and Alex Hurst. If Matt Branch grows into an offensive tackle like many project then Coach Stud will have 10 quality freshman and red-shirt freshman offensive linemen for the future.

 

The older guys need to just stay healthy and keep progressing the way they have since they have been at LSU. If they have the type of summer the coaches are expecting then this offensive line should be the best unit LSU has had since Miles took over.

 

TSD.com Projected Depth Chart Heading Into Fall Camp

 

Tackle

Ciron Black

Joseph Barksdale

Jarvis Jones

Ryan Miller

Ernest McCoy

Greg Shaw

Alex Hurst

Thomas Parsons

Matt Branch

 

Guard

Herman Johnson

Lyle Hitt

Ryan Miller

Josh Dworaczyk

Matt Allen

Will Blackwell

P.J. Lonergan

Clay Spencer

 

Center

Brett Helms

Ryan Miller

T-Bob Hebert

Matt Allen


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