Rest and rehab

It must have been a scary flashback to 2007 for the LSU defense Saturday night. For the second-straight year, both of the Tigers' starting defensive tackles went down with injuries. But this time, it happened in the same game.

In a short span of time, Charles Alexander and Ricky Jean-Francois went from rushing the Mississippi State backfield to watching from the sideline.

“My trainers told me that what I had would keep most people from standing up or walking,” Jean-Francois said. “I got up and just started laughing and said ‘Dang, why’d it have to be me?’”

Jean-Francois suffered a pulled groin and began rehab on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Alexander suffered yet another injury when he rolled his ankle in a pile. After watching the play on film, Alexander said it could have been “really nasty.”

While both are fortunate, and thankful, to have only suffered minor injuries, it marked another occasion in which LSU had to call on its defensive depth with tackles Drake Nevis and Marlon Favorite finishing the game.

“The energy and passion that those two brought to the game when me and Ricky went down,” Alexander said. “They just came in and wrecked shop. The defensive line never missed a beat.”

The performance speaks volumes about LSU’s depth on the defensive front, but it’s not a loss a defense with so many new faces can afford.

Alexander’s injuries kept him from maintaining a place next to All-American Glenn Dorsey last season and he is anxious to line up next to Jean-Francois so the two can show that 2008’s tandem can be just as potent.

“[Dorsey and Jean-Francois] both bring different styles to the table, but everything is working out for the better,” Alexander said. “Glenn was raw power and raw strength, and Ricky is very talented. We’re giving them a different flavor this year and we’re going to do some big things.”

The timing of LSU’s lone bye week is very fortunate for both big men, who do not expect to miss the Oct. 11 primetime showdown with the Florida Gators.

“We’re in the hot tub, the cold tub, just trying to calm the muscles down and strengthen the leg,” Jean-Francois said.

The return to the field can’t come soon enough, as both starters are adamant about improving a defense that allowed 24 points to Mississippi State. Jean-Francois has been particularly vocal about Saturday’s mistake-laden performance.

“There was lots of miscommunication, and we weren’t executing well,” Jean-Francois said. “We were lackadaisical and it felt like an off night. But we went into the film room and told our coaches ‘We can’t have another off night.’

“From this point on we can’t have off nights, because we’ve got Florida, Georgia, Alabama and all of them. We’ve got to make our adjustments and get it right on the field, not just the film room.”

Jean-Francois said the team has broken down tape on Florida’s shocking loss to Ole Miss, but both he and Alexander look forward to enjoying the bye week without thinking too much about the coming road trip.

“This weekend I get to actually sit back and have fun as a college football fan,” Jean-Francois said. “But when I get back here on Monday morning, there’s no more entertainment.”

Alexander said the focus of a bye week is for individual improvement.

“You watch film on Florida, but you don’t have to worry about them,” he said. “Right now you worry about things you can control as a player. I’ll be taking in the Tulane game in New Orleans this weekend then back to business come Monday.”


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