LSU offensive line summer outlook: Lots of (potentially) moving parts
LSU finished spring practice with a new starting five on the offensive line.
But it doesn’t quite feel like the group is settled quite yet.
As summer develops, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes has some work cut out for him, particularly with who will play the tackle positions and how that might impact other positions.
In the spring, LSU seemed committed to moving sophomore Maea Teuhema from left guard to left tackle, with mixed results. Teuhema, who was a highly regarded guard (not tackle) prospect coming out of high school, could potentially move back to guard.
One thing that makes that seem like a possibility is another player who could eventually play tackle, returning center Ethan Pocic, who did not participate in spring drills because of injury. Could LSU move him this summer or in August?
That’s just one of several possible moves that could still happen between now and the Tigers’ opener against Wisconsin.
2015 Rotation (returning players in bold)
Starters: LT Jerald Hawkins (4th-round draft pick, Pittsburgh Steelers), RT Vadal Alexander (7th-round pick, Oakland Raiders), C Ethan Pocic (started all 12 games), RG Will Clapp (started all 12 games), LG Maea Teuhema (started last 11 games). Reserves: G Josh Boutte (started first game at left guard), T K.J. Malone (played in all 12 games), T Toby Weathersby (started 1 game at RT), C Andy Dodd (played in 4 games), G Garrett Brumfield (played in 12 games).
Projected 2016 Rotation
Starters: LT Maea Teuhema (So.), LG Will Clapp (So.), C Ethan Pocic (Sr.), RG Josh Boutte (Sr.), RT Toby Weathersby (So.) or K.J. Malone (Jr.). Reserves: OT Chidi Okeke (RS-Fr.), C Andy Dodd (Jr.), G Garrett Brumfield (So.), G Adrian Magee (RS-Fr.).
Five Issues to Watch
- Teuhema at left tackle?: The massive true sophomore moved from left guard to left tackle in the spring and seemed to get a lot of hard lessons against the Tigers’ veteran defensive line, at least in the spring game. One thing is for sure, he was a promising talent at guard, so if tackle doesn’t work out for him, he’ll still have a bright future. However, if he does move back inside, it will set other dominoes falling.
- Is this Boutte’s year?: Last year was supposed to be the year Boutte emerged as a starter, but after a rough first game against Wisconsin, he lost his starting job to Teuhema and never regained it. Now, Boutte leaves spring with another shot to start. Does it pan out for him this time?
- Plenty of competition. LSU appears to have some depth as there are reserves who looked ready to compete for starting jobs at guard, tackle and center. At tackle, Malone filled in admirably for Weathersby when the sophomore missed time with injury in the spring. Brumfield had a pretty good spring at guard and Dodd played just fine for the injured Pocic. It’s not inconceivable that Brumfield eventually beats out Boutte, and Malone eventually beats out Weathersby.
- More shuffling?: Another possibility is more position shuffling. With Dodd looking good at center, LSU could move Pocic to tackle. Or LSU could slide Clapp to center and move Brumfield to a starting job at guard.
- Nigerian nightmare?: One player to keep an eye on is Okeke. But the No. 2-rated offensive tackle in the 2015 recruiting class is a raw prospect from Nigeria who didn’t start playing football until 2013. If he starts to figure it out and starts to reach his potential in August, it’s not unreasonable to see him pushing for the left tackle spot, thus sending Teuhema back inside.