Posted at 4:06 pm on October 9, 2017

“It’s critical” | LSU defensive line nearing full strength as Frank Herron set to make season debut against Auburn

Terrill Weil
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By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associated Editor

Christian LaCouture is playing the best football of his college career, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Monday, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t use a breather every now and then.

The senior defensive end played every snap of LSU’s 17-16 victory at Florida in grueling 100-degree heat in The Swamp on Saturday. He registered his second multi-sack outing in a row, but joked that he lost about 10 pounds by the game’s end.

Conditions are expected to be equally swampy as LSU hosts Auburn and its up-tempo, downhill ground game at Tiger Stadium this Saturday afternoon. Luckily for LaCouture and Co., more reinforcements are coming as the regular season hits the halfway point.

Senior defensive end Frank Herron will play this week after presumably serving a six-game suspension. Ed Orgeron hasn’t officially commented on the reason for his absence, but said Monday that Herron will be considered a “rotating starter” in making his season debut.

“Frank is going to be in the rotation, obviously just like Arden (Key) — it’s going to take a while to get him back in game shape,” Orgeron said. “Practicing most days with us, and we’ll see how he does in the game. But we’re going to consider him as a rotating starter, see how he practices this week and expect him to have a good game.

“Frank has played good against Auburn in the past. I think he’ll be hungry and ready to go.”

Herron has been and out of practice throughout the regular seen — often working on the scout team — but it’s anybody’s guess how effective he’ll be. He hasn’t played in a meaningful game since last November.

Still, his return is a significant development as LSU prepares to take on a formidable ground game. Auburn is averaging 228 yards per game on the ground, and running back Kerryon Johnson has amassed 368 yards and a whopping 11 touchdowns in the past three weeks.

“It’s critical,” LaCouture said of Herron’s return. “We’re finally starting to have some guys come back and have our defensive line back together. It’s something that we’ve been striving for, and now that it’s here, it’s great. We know our potential. Now we have to reach it.”

Saturday will be the first time since training camp that LSU puts its full complement of eligible defensive linemen on the field.

Defensive end Rashard Lawrence will be “limited” in practice this week, Orgeron said, but he added Lawrence’s nagging ankle actually feels better than it did this time last week. Injuries kept him from playing in LSU’s losses to Mississippi State and Troy.

“A little sore, but we’ll see as the week goes on. Probably be limited during the week,” Orgeron said. “But having him out there and having his presence and his toughness and his leadership means the world to our defense. And I know having Frank back this week is going to give a boost to our defense.”

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James Moran has been the associate editor of Tiger Rag Magazine since 2014. He covers LSU football and baseball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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