Jordan Jefferson is the LSU starting quarterback.
Despite talk of progress needed, head coach Les Miles hasn’t shied away from continuing to name Jefferson his top man under center through the spring and fall – different from the approach he took in the two years prior.
On Monday, clarity – save a few spots – was brought to the rest of team’s starting lineup.
As offensive line coach Greg Studrawa had shown all fall, the front five are set (left to right) as Joseph Barksdale, Josh Dworaczyk, P.J. Lonergan, Will Blackwell and Alex Hurst. The tights end depth chart shakes down with 6-foot-4, 243-pound Deangelo Peterson in the starting spot, followed by Chase Clement and Mitch Joseph.
The top three of Terrance Toliver, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard lead the wideouts into the new season, seeing Shepard line up in the slot with Toliver and Randle on the outsides. Of the freshmen to see the field, Kadron Boone is listed as the back up to Shepard and James Wright as the third man on the outsides.
While Miles confirmed that Stevan Ridley and Richard Murphy would get the lion’s share of the touches against North Carolina, Ridley said on Monday that neither of the two know which one will be penciled into the starting rotation on the opening drive.
Though incoming freshman Brandon Worle was expected to step in and take the fullback job with sophomore Dominique Allen drifting out of the picture, neither are in the discussion this week. The once-suspended Allen is gone from the program and Worle nursed a bad hamstring all fall, leaving the Tiger backfield with their second question mark. Miles pegged James Stampley as the lead name throughout fall camp, though as of Monday no official word had been handed down on whether the 5-foot-10, 230-pounder would hold off fellow walk-on Richard Dugas, a one-time offensive lineman.
On the opposite side of the ball one new name to the field has already been penned in: redshirt freshman Sam Montgomery at defensive end on the right side. Sophomore Lavar Edwards will spell him.
The battle opposite Montgomery is between JUCO transfer Ken Adams and sophomore Chancey Aghayere. KeKe Mingo is slated to be the third man on the side and will be used primarily as a situational speed rusher.
In the middle seniors Drake Nevis and Pep Levingston will be the first names to the field, backed up by 6-foot-6, redshirt freshman Michael Brockers – the lone 300-pounder in the trenches for the Tigers this season.
If fully-recovered from an injury suffered in the team’s second scrimmage, Josh Downs will be the fourth tackle in defensive line coach Brick Haley’s rotation.
With Ryan Baker’s broken jaw set to sideline him for at least the first two weeks of the season, Miles will enter Atlanta with a number of different options to hold them over at linebacker.
Senior Kelvin Sheppard remains the cornerstone, and while he is currently set to start in the middle, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis said that the team’s top returning tackler could play all three positions if need be.
While in the middle, look for Sheppard to be flanked on the right by Lamin Barrow and left by Stefoin Francois or Luke Muncie, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound freshman who made big waves with his performance over the past month. When on the outsides, expect redshirt freshman Kevin Minter to join the starting group.
Patrick Peterson returns as the team’s right cornerback, joined on the left side by first-year starter Morris Claiborne. Ron Brooks and freshman Tyrann Mathieu will back the pair up.
The final – and perhaps biggest – question mark is at free safety, where as many as three names are in the mix for the job opposite returning starter Brandon Taylor. Miles said that Jai Eugene, Craig Loston and freshman Eric Reid are all battling for time, though no starter has been named. Ronnie Vinson will back up Taylor at strong safety.
Senior Josh Jasper will handle the kicking duties and be the short-distance man on punts. Fellow senior Derek Helton is slated as the starting punter for the second year in a row. Helton will also hold for Jasper on field goals and extra points.
Peterson leads the group of return threats on special teams, joined on kickoffs by Ron Brooks – who started at the spot alongside Trindon Holliday last fall. Morris Claiborne, Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle were also mentioned as names that would battle for touches in the return game behind the aforementioned.