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August 26, 2013
Few personnel surprises
It has been more than two weeks since members of the media were able to watch any portion of LSU football practices.
So, media members had no idea about the Tigers depth chart for the opener against TCU. On Monday, LSU released its depth chart for Saturday's game in conjunction with coach Les Miles' first media luncheon of the year.
Junior Elliott Porter is listed as the starting center ahead of freshman Ethan Pocic. Travis Dickson is the No. 1 tight end ahead of Dillon Gordon. However, Dickson has a knee injury which could prevent him from playing against the Horned Frogs. The only other tight end listed is junior Logan Stokes.
Senior Alfred Blue is the starting tailback with junior Kenny Hilliard listed as his first backup. Sophomore Jeremy Hill is the No. 3 tailback. Miles hinted that Hill will miss playing time against TCU.
"Jeremy Hill is going to sustain discipline," Miles said. "We said that he would be withheld from play. That's going to take place. Our discipline will be internal and we don't have much further to say. We're not going to comment if Jeremy will travel with team. I wouldn't be surprised he would be on the trip."
The only position in which a starter was not identified was at defensive end opposite junior Jermauria Rasco. Sophomore Danielle Hunter and junior Jordan Allen are listed as co-starters.
"Those three guys are just interchangeable," Miles said. "They are different guys, but all three are going to see time Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised if Tashawn Bower also saw time or someone like a Lewis Neal."
Junior D.J. Welter and senior Tahj Jones, who missed the 2012 regular season due to academic ineligibility, will start at middle linebacker and strongside linebacker, respectively. Sophomores Lamar Louis and Kwon Alexander are listed as the backups at those positions.
"D.J. Welter is a guy that can step in and make plays," Miles said. "That frees up Lamin (Barrow) to be an outside guy. The outside could be handled by Kwon Alexander and Tahj Jones. The rotation there is a quality one and one that benefits the speed we have at linebacker."
The top four wide receivers are as expected - juniors Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, redshirt freshman Travin Dural and senior Kadron Boone. None of the five players comprising the No. 2 offensive line has participated in a college game.
The second unit offensive line consists of freshman Josh Boutte at left tackle, sophomore Jonah Austin at left guard, Pocic at center, junior Fehoko Fanaika at right guard and junior Evan Washington at right tackle. Pocic could enter the game at any position if one of the starters is injured.
Miles confirmed that senior guard Josh Williford's career is over because of his suffering a second concussion.
ANALYSIS: Similar situation for LSU football in 2013
"It is certainly a personal disappointment for Josh and one for his teammates that he cannot continue," Miles said. "He's a guy that will be in our meeting rooms and operate as a student coach. He will be involved and we'll enjoy his participation greatly."
Freshman Anthony Jennings is the No. 2 quarterback behind senior Zach Mettenberger. Miles is confident that Jennings is ready to see the field.
"Anthony, who was with us in the spring, is probably further along than some of those freshmen who had a chance to play in 2008," Miles said. "Anthony is suited to understand the offense pretty well. We'd expect that if he goes into the game, he could execute anything that we asked him to do.
"What's always been a significant piece for me are the grades. If you've got a young guy who comes in and handles his academics in a strong fashion, he expects a lot of himself when he goes into the classroom. Anthony has that kind of personality a team would love to follow."
Miles expressed the opinion that Mettenberger has really improved because of the coaching style of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
"Zach expects more out of himself going into this final campaign," Miles said. "He is really accepting of coaching. Cam is a very demanding coach. Cam helps a guy that wants to compete or execute at a very high level. It's really a great time in Mettenberger's career that Cam Cameron is on board."
Six true freshmen are listed on the depth chart which includes 53 players - 28 on offense and 25 on defense. The players are Boutte, Pocic, Jennings, Bower, defensive tackle Christian LaCouture and safety Rickey Jefferson. All are second-teamers except for Jefferson, who is No. 3 at both safety spots.
There is just one change in special-teams personnel. Dural is listed as the No. 2 kickoff return man along with Beckham. Freshman walk-on Colby Delahoussaye is the No. 1 place-kicker.
"Any time you take the field in an opener, there is some type of feeling," Miles said. "I don't know that you'd call it anxiety. Every team has a personality and it's a developing one. The youth of a team allows for continued improvement. It also allows a veteran to really enjoy the enthusiasm of the young.
"I think this is a great team that has the potential to step forward and improve. In your first game, there is always that enjoyment of seeing how good they are. Let's just see."
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