Every team has vulnerabilities, one of them being susceptibility to injuries. While we have a lot of talent all over the field, there are positions where lack of depth will make us particularly vulnerable. If we have to replace a key player with a true freshman, that will be a problem. Here is my list of the 5 players we can least afford to lose significant time:
1. Ciron Black, OT: He's quite a good left tackle, and we currently have little idea who his backup is. Plan A for backing up Ciron "CB" Black was sophomore Jarvis Jones, but he was expelled from the team and is now at Oklahoma. That leaves LSU with only one experienced backup offensive lineman, Ryan Miller. He backs up every position except left tackle. The depth among young players is admirable in the interior line, but not at the tackle positions, where the loss of Marc Snyder to injury really hurt. If Ciron Black gets hurt, we'd probably have to move Joseph Barksdale over from right tackle, his natural position, and insert Miller at right tackle. Or, we'd have to play a true freshman a lot of snaps.
2. Colt David, PK: He's developed into an All-SEC field goal kicker, and the two sophomores behind him have been disappointing at kickoffs while not attempting any actual placekicks for points. If David is somehow lost, which I know would be unusual for a kicker, but not unheard of, extra points and short field goals could become an adventure.
3. Darry Beckwith, LB: He's our best linebacker, and our most experienced starter. He's the only linebacker on the team that is unlikely to come off the field while a game is still in doubt. The backup (Jacob Cutrera) is actually pretty experienced, but the drop-off in skill is substantial, and Beckwith's leadership at the linebacker position is essential. Unfortunately, Beckwith has a history of injuries, and we would be fortunate to have him healthy for the entire season. Stranger things have happened, though.
4. Ricky Jean-Francois, DT: The depth here is very solid, but Jean-Francois is definitely the playmaker of the group. While his replacement would be pretty good if he were to get hurt, his replacement wouldn't be anywhere near as disruptive as Ricky Jean-Francois. He's expected to be one of the key playmakers of the defense, and one of the ones who can get consistent pressure on a quarterback. He needs to be on the field as much as possible, while still of course rotating him out enough to stay fresh, as I've preached many times for defensive linemen.
5. Richard Dickson, TE: The big passing target is going to be an important outlet for our young quarterbacks all season long. If they struggle to get the ball to the outside, Dickson will be there finding holes in the zone and giving them a big target to throw to. There is no receiving tight end to speak of behind him, and no receiver quite like him on the team, so he is going to be an essential part of the offense.
So, that's my five. I could have easily picked a couple of other players instead, but if you're going to go with the round number of five, this is my group. Honorable mention include Curtis Taylor, Brandon Lafell, and Tyson Jackson.