LSU's offensive line coming together? Ed Orgeron praises potential starters Liam Shanahan, Kardell Thomas
This time last year, LSU’s offensive line was a big question mark heading into the 2019 season. Needless to say, offensive line coach James Cregg had his unit ready to play by the time the season arrived.
Doing so once again with nearly an entirely new cast of players could prove to be the difference between LSU repeating in the SEC West or falling back to the pack in the nation’s toughest division. The Tigers may have lost four starters off the offensive line to the NFL this offseason but that doesn’t mean Cregg doesn’t have quality players to work with in Baton Rouge.
During his most recent appearance on ESPN Baton Rouge radio show “Off The Bench,” before discussing his program’s new-look offensive line, Ed Orgeron was asked what the coaching staff looks for during fall camps entering the season.
The key to getting his team ready for the season? Orgeron says turnovers, effort and development are the first things that come to mind.
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“First of all, we are looking for ball opportunities — turnovers. We want great ball security, great turnovers. The team that wins the turnover ratio is going to win the game,” Orgeron said on the show. “The next one is effort. Identify what is a loaf. The next one is on-going skill development. We talk about fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Stance, alignment, assignment. Every day.”
Those are the goals for the overall team during camp but with so much turnover on the offensive line this offseason, Cregg needs to find four starters to play with senior and returning starter, Austin Deculus. One of the team’s potential new starters up front wasn’t even on the team last year.
During his appearance on the show, Orgeron spoke glowingly of Harvard graduate transfer Liam Shanahan, a former first-team All-Ivy selection in 2019.
“We think Liam may be a center — what we are hearing, obviously we can’t watch them — but he’s snapping well, that’s what the quarterbacks are saying,” Orgeron said. “The other offensive linemen like him, they are working together. He is very smart. We feel that he, for sure, can make the calls and be a leader for us.
“He’s a big young man, 6-foot-5, 310. He’s a tough young man. He has really, really impressed… Very impressed with the young man so far but he’s got to go through camp and get it done.”
While at the right guard position, one name to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Kardell Thomas. Formerly a touted prospect in the 2019 recruiting cycle, Thomas impressed early on during his time in Baton Rouge before suffering a season-ending injury.
LSU’s coach shared a promising update on Thomas as the offensive lineman enters his second season in the program.
“Kardell has lost a lot of weight, he looks very good,” Orgeron commented. “He’s worked very hard and he’s going to compete for that right guard spot. That right guard spot is wide open and let’s see what he can do.”
In an ideal world, LSU may have already identified two of the four starters on the offensive line before fall camp even begins. They’ll have to work to earn their spots but Orgeron seemed to give an indication of the players that will be given every opportunity to start on the offensive line next fall in Baton Rouge.