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 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.
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.
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