For what feels like the third or fourth year in a row, LSU has lost yet another returning starter along the offensive line to discipline/attrition. But whereas Maea Teuhema’s defection proved to be a serious setback early on in 2017, the Tiger front is better equipped to deal with Ed Ingram’s mysterious suspension in 2018.
(Ingram hasn’t even been listed on the rosters distributed to media members at practice — although he remains listed on the roster online. Still no word as to the nature of his suspension, or a timetable on his return. I do not believe it’s a case of failed drug tests or other typical “team rules” violations.)
Even without Ingram, first-year offensive line coach James Cregg inherits six scholarship players with some form of game experience, plus two very talented junior college players. Whereas last year, LSU exited camp with just five experienced bodies and 11 total scholarship players — and some of those had walk-ons ahead of them in the two-deep.
2018 LSU Roster: Offensive Line
|Tackles||77 Saahdiq Charles (So.)||6-5, 305|
|65 Jakori Savage (So.)||6-5, 296|
|74 Badara Traore (Jr.)||6-7, 323|
|73 Adrian Magee (Jr.)||6-5, 335|
|76 Austin Deculus (So.)||6-7, 321|
|61 Cam Wire (Fr.)||6-7, 296|
|Guards||78 Garrett Brumfield (Sr.)||6-4, 303|
|71 Donovaughn Campbell (Jr.)||6-4, 351|
|70 Edward Ingram (So.)*||6-4, 314|
|68 Damien Lewis (Jr.)||6-3, 322|
|52 Chasen Hines (Fr.)||6-4, 336|
|Centers||79 Lloyd Cushenberry (So.)||6-4, 309|
|67 Cole Smith (Fr.)||6-3, 285|
Projected Starting Lineup: right now, it looks something like this —
Projected Offensive Line Two-Deep
|Projected Depth Chart||LT||LG||C||RG||RT|
|Projected Depth Chart||LT||LG||C||RG||RT|
|Saahdiq Charles||Garrett Brumfield||Lloyd Cushenberry||Damien Lewis||Adrian Magee|
|Badara Traore||Chasen Hines||Garrett Brumfield||Donovaughn Campbell||Austin Deculus|
Sophomore Austin Deculus and junior Adrian Magee are still competing for the starting job at right tackle. Ingram’s suspension actually made the competition for the three interior positions fairly academic. Junior college transfer Damien Lewis slides into the open spot — something that the coaches wanted to make happen after he stole the show in spring practice — with senior Garrett Brumfield and sophomore Lloyd Cushenberry at center. Many expected Lewis to maybe push Brumfield to the center spot, but Cushenberry has really stepped up this spring, per reports out of camp. Brumfield will still work at center some in case of injury.
Cregg has a “best five” philosophy, so other players might shift around in case of injury — Magee or Deculus maybe sliding to guard, Brumfield to center, etc...
Power Point: depth is so much better, overall.
Right now, without Ingram, LSU has six bodies they consider starting caliber for the five positions, and more developed backups like junior college transfer Badara Traore and Donovaughn Campbell that provide a little more comfort.
Last year, LSU had no choice but to start Ingram and Saahdiq Charles due to injuries and the thin group — and Deculus was joining them in the lineup by midseason. For now, freshmen Cam Wire, Chasen Hines and Cole Smith should all have the luxury to redshirt. If I had to guess, Hines would be the one out of that group to grab a few snaps if needed.
Of course, depth is always great in theory, until it’s tested. Maybe this year LSU will get some luck on that front.
Pressure Point: right tackle.
Left tackle should be solidified for at least the next two years with Charles, who impressed quickly with his footwork and grew steadily over the course of the 2017 season.
Right tackle, on the other hand, remains a competition between Deculus and Magee. The latter has been described to me as one of the big surprises of camp so far. It’s no secret that Magee is a player many had written off a year ago. He was buried on the depth chart and suspended over an arrest. He got on the field in 2017 as a swing player, and didn’t exactly stand out, but showed a nasty attitude, something that can be important, especially with other young players around.
To date, he has dedicated himself and made a real push for the starting job alongside Deculus, a blue-chip recruit that projected as a true road-grader. He was thrown into the fire against Florida last year, and grew through a few early gaffes to finish the game strong. He also made a strong impression on Cregg in the spring, despite being limited by a wrist injury.
Per Orgeron, the player that picks up the pass-protection duties of the position will win the job, and it seems like they’re getting more than enough of a workout on that front, based on reports from the first scrimmage and linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson. Finding the answer to this question mark spot could be what determines this line’s full potential moving forward.