We’re used to talking about quarterback being the big question holding back LSU’s skill talent, but last year the biggest problem was the offensive line.
The Tigers used six different lineups in the first seven games under a new position coach, and the overall result yielded the program’s lowest yards-per-carry average in nearly 10 years, with sack and tackle-for-loss numbers in the bottom quarter of the country.
But four starters return, along with several key experienced backups. Overall depth and numbers are better than they’ve been in several years. The ingredients are in place for this line to take a jump into the top half of the SEC, but keeping a healthy and consistent lineup will be the key.
Offensive line coach James Cregg moved this group more towards the Alex Gibbs style of wide/tight zone blocking, and that’s a system that relies heavily on communication between players and continuity of lineup. Keeping a steady and consistent rotation will be the key.
2019 LSU Offensive Line
|Tackles||77 Saahdiq Charles (Jr.)||6-4, 295|
|76 Austin Deculus (Jr.)||6-7, 322|
|74 Badara Traore (Sr.)||6-7, 320|
|73 Adrian Magee (Sr.)||6-4, 343|
|51 Dare Rosenthal (Fr.-RS)||6-7, 314|
|61 Cam Wire (Fr.-RS)||6-6, 300|
|75 Anthony Bradford||6-7, 355|
|Guards||71 Donovaughn Campbell (Jr.)||6-5, 360|
|70 Edward Ingram (So.)*||6-4, 314|
|68 Damien Lewis (Sr.)||6-3, 332|
|57 Chasen Hines (So.)||6-4, 336|
|58 Kardell Thomas||6-3, 329|
|78 Thomas Perry||6-6, 341|
|Centers||79 Lloyd Cushenberry (Jr.)||6-4, 315|
|69 Charles Turner (Fr.)||6-4, 266|
Expect the starting lineup to look something like this:
Saahdiq Charles (LT), Adrian Magee (LG), Lloyd Cushenberry (C), Damien Lewis (RG), Austin Deculus (RT)
Look for sophomore Chasen Hines to push Magee, and maybe supplant him eventually, while true freshman Kardell Thomas pushes for playing time as well.
The tackles are likely set with Charles and Deculus, and keeping both healthy will be a huge key, as they played through injuries last season. Charles can be dominant at times, and I still believe has the potential to play himself into a high draft rating. Deculus can be a mauler one-on-one but struggles in space or with speed rushers.
Inside, Cushenberry and Lewis return. The former was one of the most consistent centers in the SEC last year, and has clearly emerged as a team rock in earning the No. 18. Lewis can be dominant at times, but struggled with consistency.
Look for Magee and Hines to be the two primary backups at a couple of positions. Overall, depth is much better here with veterans like Badara Traore and Donovaughn Campbell. Players like Dare Rosenthal and Cameron Wire should have the freedom to grow into future roles. Both would likely get on the field in an injury situation, but neither should be needed yet. And most of this freshman class should have the luxury of a redshirt. Although I do think we’ll see Thomas get on the field, as he’ll likely be eyeing a starting job in 2020.
There could be some additional depth added if Ed Ingram comes off his suspension — there have been rumors that sexual assault charges in Texas could be dropped. But until those charges are dropped, which won’t happen before the season opener, he remains out and the staff isn’t planning on having him.