Can we talk about this depth chart for a second? I mean, I’m going to spare you my annual “bowl games don’t matter but that’s okay” speech, but just marvel at this:
The depth chart #LSU released for Tuesday’s Texas Bowl.— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) January 2, 2022
Drives home just how depleted the roster is. Barely 40 guys available who arrived at LSU on scholarship.
CB is most notable. Freshman Damarius McGhee, Nicholls transfer Darren Evans + walk-on Lloyd Cole only ones listed. pic.twitter.com/QOXYDoFadU
Everything about this speaks to how decimated LSU’s roster is. It’s now been two straight seasons of simply awful injury luck. Last year, well, that was everyone, even if LSU got it worse than most, but this season… my God.
So many things jump out at me, so let’s deal at them one at time.
First, of the twenty-two listed starters for LSU in the bowl game, nine are freshmen. Nine. To put that in perspective, in week one, LSU only had two freshmen in the entire two-deep. And the only freshman starter in week one, Major Burns, is not playing the bowl game.
It’s not just nine freshmen starting, it’s nine freshmen that were not even the primary backup back in September, save Garrett Nussmeier, who until the depth chart came out, we weren’t even sure was going to play. As it stands, Nussmeier is the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster. His backup is Tavion Faulk, a walk-on.
Shea Dixon made note of the most egregious part of the depth chart: LSU has only three cornerbacks listed. And they are a freshman, a transfer from Nichols, and a senior walk-on. This was a team that boasted, at season’s beginning, not one but two genuine All-American contenders.
LSU has gone from, on paper, perhaps the greatest cornerback depth chart in school history, which is saying something, to having almost literally no options to field. If just one corner gets hurt, or hell, gets tired, LSU cannot line up three corners on defense without a position switch. Amazing.
The attrition is flabbergasting. The only position on offense to have the same two players listed on the two deep in week one and the bowl game is left guard (Ed Ingram and Marlon Martinez). It’s the same on defense, the only position with the same two-deep is free safety (Jay Ward and Jordan Toles).
In week one, LSU had nine returning starters listed on both sides of the ball, a huge amount of experience to return. Of those eighteen returning starters, how many made it to the finish line? Five on offense, representing the entire offensive line, the one unit which is still largely intact. On defense, it’s just Jay Ward again.
That’s twelve returning starters lost. And somehow it gets worse when you look at the production from this season.
LSU’s depth chart is missing its starting quarterback (373 of 432 pass attempts and 2814 of 3169 passing yards), its leading rusher (211 of 325 non-QB carries and 1003 of 1313 rushing yards), and its top receiver (Boutte’s 38 catches and 508 yards still leads the team).
The Tigers are short three of their top five tacklers, including Damone Clark, easily the team’s best defender all season. LSU does have its sack leader in BJ Ojulari, but is missing the only other guy with 5+ sacks on the year. LSU had five players with at least 3 PBU’s on the season, only Darren Evans will play in the bowl game.
Hey, but at least we got our kicker.