Spring Football Preview: OL

The offensive line position will be one of the most intriguing for LSU this offseason. With a number of different starting looks that the Tigers could feature, here is our take on what to watch.

This race breaks down differently than any other on the Tiger team. Literally, the spring and preseason camps that follow will make or break each players chances at nabbing a starting spot by the time Atlanta rolls around. Right now, things seem wide open.

For starters, let’s get a look at the Tigers that will be in the mix this spring:


Joe Barksdale

6’5”, 315, Senior

Detroit, Mich.

Last Season: 13 starts at right tackle


Josh Dworaczyk

6’6”, 281, Junior

New Iberia, La.

Last Season: 13 starts at left guard


T-Bob Hebert

6’3”, 285, Junior

Norcross, Ga.

Last Season: 11 starts at center in 11 games played


Patrick Lonergan

6’4”, 300, Sophomore

New Orleans, La.

Last Season: 2 starts at center in five games played


Will Blackwell

6’4”, 300, Junior

West Monroe, La.

Last Season: 12 games played, served as a backup at guard


Alex Hurst

6’6”, 324, Sophomore

Bartlett, Tenn.

Last Season: 12 games played, served as a backup at guard


Matt Branch

6’6”, 272, Sophomore

Monroe, La.

Last Season: 10 games played, served as a backup at tackle


Greg Shaw

6’5”, 301, Junior

Hialeah, Fla.

Last Season: Three games played, served as a backup at tackle


Clay Spencer

6’6”, 288, Sophomore

Baton Rouge, La.

Last Season: Served as a backup at guard


Chris Faulk

6’6”, 316, Freshman

Slidell, La.

Last Season: True freshman, served as a backup at tackle


Stavion Lowe

6’5”, 296, Freshman

Brownwood, Texas

Last Season: True freshman, served as a backup at tackle


Josh Williford

6’7”, 336, Freshman

Dothan, Ala.

Last Season: True freshman, served as a backup at both guard and tackle


Cordian Hagans

6’5”, 287, So.

Snellville, Ga.

Last Season: No games played


Evan Washington

6’5”, 287, Freshman

DeSoto, Texas

Last Season: Senior in high school


Across the Line

This reports back on performances from the offensive linemen this spring will be some of the most important news to the future of the Tiger program

Last season, Miles tabbed the line as one of the best in his time at LSU – high praise given the talent that has worked for the Tigers in the trenches.

Yet, the unit underperformed all season – even with returning names like Ciron Black, Joseph Barksdale and Lyle Hitt.

Barksdale is back, as well as a number of first-year starters and rotation players from 2009 that will battle for those same spots once more.

According to Miles, a shakeup is certainly in the making.

“There’s a chance there’s a number of young guards that could step in there and play and a number of guys that could step out and play tackle,” Miles said. “I would have to think that will settle down pretty quickly.”

The first piece – and biggest – was who would replace Black at left tackle. Right now, that person appears to be third-year starter Joe Barksdale, who spent his prior two years at tackle opposite Black.

This is a big switch for Barksdale, but the senior has proven that he can handle the grind for the long haul. Last season, he led all linemen with 735 plays from scrimmage. In arguably the team’s biggest game – a trip to Alabama – Barksdale graded out at a season-high 87 percent.

The next question is who fills Barksdale’s spot on the right side? Candidates include a slew of names.

Josh Dworaczyk started at left guard in every game for LSU last season, and with a 6-foot-6, 281-pound frame, the tall and wide junior lineman could make a switch to tackle – if need be.

Greg Shaw and Chris Faulk are two names that the staff knows must have a big spring to warrant a start on the 2010 line – one that must be much improved from last season.

Shaw, who is the less athletic lineman of the two, will need to prove that he can make it through workouts and run with the ones for an entire preseason. The same goes for Faulk, who some say has struggled with work outs towards the end of last season. For Faulk, running with the scout team and not the twos each week of 2009 put him behind the eight ball. With a chance to step into a starting spot, the opportunity for the redshirt freshman is now there for the taking.

Again, if no one steps forward to fill the right tackle spot, Dworaczyk could secure it. If not, look for him to stay at left guard.

As for the center position, the battle is once again between P.J. Lonergan and T-Bob Hebert. Last season, Hebert carried the starting title for most of the way. However, injuries left Hebert battling knee and ankle problems throughout the season. When Lonergan stepped into Hebert’s spot, he showed signs of both strength and weaknesses. Whoever steps up and makes the biggest showing this spring is whom we expect to start. Right now, Lonergan could be a lot closer to getting onto the field that most think.

If Hebert stays at center, Lonergan could make a move to guard – and possibly even vice-versa. Both Tigers gained valuable experience in 2009, and the coaching staff is high on what both bring to the table. If Dworaczyk has to make a move outside, a spot would open that the odd-man out at center could occupy.

The pair of wildcard names are Alex Hurst and Will Blackwell. The coaching staff raved about both players throughout last fall, and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa let both of them see action in each regular season game.

Blackwell stands out because of his athleticism, surely thanks in large part to playing on the defensive line in West Monroe during high school. Hurst’s best feature is his quick feet, and with a wide body the sophomore is a tough match for most defensive rushers. Watch for both of these guys to battle it out for a spot in the starting five. With only Barksdale and Dworaczyk’s spots more or less set, the performances of these two guards will go a far way in determining how the lineup will fill out.

Add to that the names that we haven’t seen much from: Matt Branch, Clay Spencer, Stavion Lowe, Josh Williford, Cordian Hagans and Evan Washington. Plenty of bodies are healthy and prepped for workouts, so the options are plenty.

Branch is a legitimate guy to work into a rotation after playing in 10 games last season, especially if LSU finds themselves in goal-line situations and in need of extra bodies.

Spencer, Lowe and Williford will get their first true evaluations this spring when they rotate in and run with the second group – so stay tuned for feedback on them. The same goes for Hagans, a converted defensive tackle, and Washington, an early enrollee who is headed into his first spring with the team.

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