Spring Analysis: D-Line

LSU's defense is led by a star-studded cast on the defensive line that figures to be one of the nation's best units for 2008. The Tigers lost All-America defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who will be a high first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, but there is a long line of guys ready to step in and fill the void.

Spring Analysis

 

Every coach in America would love to have the kind of depth that LSU has along the defensive front and many would be more than happy to have the guys who are running second team.

 

When Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman both elected to return for their senior season there probably wasn’t a happier man in all the land than Defensive Line Coach Earl Lane.

 

If Pittman stays healthy and plays at the level he did last season, and Jackson picks his game up a notch then the presence LSU will have could be as good as it was when the Tigers won the BCS crown in 2003 with Marcus Spears and Marquisse Hill coming off the edge.

 

The backup defensive ends are not too shabby either with Tremaine Johnson, Rahim Alem, Lazarius “Pep” Levingston, Sidell Corley and Jordan Corbin.

 

Alem and Levingston were praised for their efforts during the spring and both appear to be on the verge of doing big things when their number is called .

 

Alem was one of the recipients of the Alvin Roy Award, which signifies outstanding performance in the off-season program, while Levingston looks quicker and more powerful than he ever has while at LSU.

 

The tackle position has more depth, which is kind of scary if you’re the opposition, led by Ricky Jean-Francois, Charles Alexander, Drake Nevis, Marlon Favorite, Al Woods and Kentravis Aubrey.

 

Jean-Francois didn’t take part in all of spring practice because of track and field but when he was there his presence was felt on the practice fields.

 

It looks like Alexander is going to be full-speed at some point during fall camp based on what the coaches have said although he may be held out of some two-a-day sessions just for precaution.

 

Spring Game Performance

 

Ricky Jean-Francois had five tackles for the White squad in the spring game but he caused more havoc than the stat sheet would indicate. He consistently blew past the second team offensive line and looks like he is ready to carry the torch for LSU’s front four.

 

The surprise of the spring game was Lazarius “Pep” Levingston as he caused a lot of problems for Joseph Barksdale and even for Ciron Black when he switched to left end. Pep finished with four solo stops and a sack but there were three more occasions where he was in the backfield hurrying the quarterback.

 

In Kirston Pittman’s absence, Rahim Alem started for the White team opposite of Tyson Jackson and finished with a tackle while Jackson logged three stops and added a sack to his line.

 

Drake Nevis started in place of Alexander, who was held out due to his knee, and recorded two solo tackles and a sack. The thing you have to love about the John Ehret product is the way he gets off the ball so quickly which reminds some of a young Glenn Dorsey.

 

Al Woods also turned in a solid outing with four tackles and Jordon Corbin was in on a couple of stops as he has made the move over to the defensive side of the ball.

 

What’s Next

 

The 2003 defensive line that featured Marcus Spears, Marquisse Hill, Chad Lavalais, and Kyle Williams is one of the best to ever suit up in purple and gold.

 

While the projected starters for 2008 in Tyson Jackson, Ricky Jean-Francois, Charles Alexander, and Kirston Pittman may not be as highly regarded as that 2003 cast, the thing that may make the D-Line unit as a whole better is the depth provided by the second and even third team guys.

 

Before the comparisons are tossed out there, though, a word of caution must be presented.

 

Four of the top 11 defensive linemen have had very serious injuries within the past three years and Ricky Jean-Francois has played in only 14 games since he has been at LSU, including only two last season due to a suspension imposed by the university.

 

Two of the Tigers’ projected starters in Pittman and Alexander have to prove they can stay healthy and injury free, and some of the young guys like Al Woods and Rahim Alem need to live up to the hype that was bestowed on them coming out of high school.

 

Any way you slice it this group is going to be the leader on the defense.

 

This unit is going to be good, and it will likely be very good, but will it be great like in 2003?

 

TSD.com Projected Depth Chart Heading Into Fall Camp

 

Ends

Tyson Jackson

Kirsten Pittman

Rahim Alem

Tremaine Johnson

Lazarius “Pep” Levingston

Sidell Corley

Jordon Corbin

Chancey Aghayere

Chase Clement

 

Tackles

Ricky Jean-Francois

Charles Alexander

Marlon Favorite

Drake Nevis

Al Woods

Kentravis Aubrey

Lavar Edwards

Cordian Hagans


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