After taking the week off, Brian Kelly met with the local media ahead of LSU’s big ole game against Alabama this Saturday (6:45 P.M., CBS).
Kelly spoke about the health of his team heading into Saturday and the news is pretty grim on the defensive side of the ball. Kelly confirmed that LSU will be without three corners Saturday night: Zy Alexander, who was injured on the final play of the first half against Army, Duce Chestnut, and Denver Harris. Kelly just issued a blanket statement saying all three would be “unavailable” but they’re out for entirely different reasons. Alexander’s injury is likely season ending, Chestnut has been away from the team for a few weeks now, and while I hate to speculate, I’d assume Harris is having some type of disciplinary problem.
The absences of Harris, Alexander, and Chestnut leaves LSU thin at corner. Saturday night they’ll have to rely on young players like Ashton Stamps, Jeremiah Hughes, Laterrence Welch, and Javien Toviano.
“These kids, they’re elite players coming out of high school. I mean, they’re elite players. Now you’re putting them in a position where they just have to be confident and trust their technique and trust what we’ve taught them,” Kelly said. “Now it’s taking that trust and putting it in from preparation to performance and playing emotionally at a level that allows them to do their job.
“I think we’ve been at it long enough to where these guys are ready to go. They’ve got no choice. These guys are ready to play. They’re young, many have said inexperienced, I get it they haven’t played a lot of SEC games. But these guys are really good players and they’ll compete for LSU.”
Unfortunately for LSU, the losses don’t stop in the secondary. Kelly said that defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo underwent surgery during the bye week and said would miss the rest of the season. Kelly then clarified his comment and said Wingo will be out about six weeks so it will just depend on what LSU’s postseason fate ends up being.
“Next man up,” Kelly said when asked how the team moves forward. “We’ll rely on the rotation that you saw pretty much against Army. It’ll be a similar rotation.”