2008 Football Preview: The Tight End

If you're here reading this, then you probably care at least a little bit about LSU football.  If you care anything about LSU football, you probably know who the headliner of the tight end group is:

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Richard Dickson had more catches for more yards and more touchdowns than any LSU tight end of the decade, and he was just a sophomore.  He had 32 catches for 375 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Every year coaches say, "We're going to involve the tight end more," but they rarely do.  Last year, they really did, increasing the number of receptions by tight ends from 8 to 36.


 

What people seem to forget about Dickson is that he is actually a pretty solid blocker at the tight end position too.  In watching the NFL draft this past April, whenever a tight end would be drafted, one of the "weaknesses" was always "can't/won't block".  Richard Dickson started almost every game as a true freshman and was primarily a blocking tight end.

Given, in order to be a true blocking tight end, Dickson would have to be about 20 pounds bigger than his 237 pound body currently is, so we probably need a blocker or two behind him for jumbo packages.  That's where these guys come in:

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From left to right, that's Mitch Joseph and Alex Russian, two redshirt freshmen from the class of 2007.  LSU lost its best blocking tight ends from last season in Mit Cole and Keith Zinger to graduation, so we have to find new tight ends to play behind Dickson.  These guys will be pushed by a group of true freshmen tight ends who will be looking to get into the rotation, including Matt Branch and Tyler Edwards, and possibly Chase Clement or Lavar Edwards.

For what it's worth, the official LSU roster lists both Chase Clement and Lavar Edwards as defensive ends, but it's hard to tell if that is reliable or not.  There has also always been speculation that Branch would bulk up and move inside, though I am not counting on that either.  Branch shows very good hands and wheels as a tight end, and I think he could end up being very good there.

Last year, when we got into a jumbo package, reserve offensive tackles Jarvis Jones and Joseph Barksdale sometimes lined up as tight ends.  I wonder if the coaches have something similar in mind for this year.  

Dickson is clearly the man at tight end, but you need more than one, and the battle to be the blocking option at tight end will be fierce.  It will be, in my opinion, one of the more interesting storylines of the first few games.

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