By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Lloyd Cushenberry isn’t particular.
LSU’s redshirt-freshman lineman doesn’t care which position he plays — it might not matter to him if it’s along the offensive line at all.
Just point him in the right direction, tell him what to do and Cushenberry will do everything in his power to execute as best as he can.
“Lloyd is versatile and he’s always willing to learn and do whatever the coach or anybody else asks of him,” left guard Garrett Brumfield said. “He’s always ready to get in there and be the guy. He’s ready when you call on him, whenever you need him.”
Right now, LSU needs him to be its right guard.
LSU announced Wednesday that presumed starter Maea Teuhema has been granted his release to transfer to another school. He was suspended indefinitely earlier in the day, and now his career as a Tiger has come to an abrupt end.
Prior to camp, LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes shifted Cushenberry over to compete with Donavaughn Campbell to take his place. It’s not the role he prepared for heading into camp, but he reported to campus prepared to cease the opportunity nonetheless.
“Even last year when I redshirted, I always came with the same mindset,” Cushenberry said. “I prepare like I am a starter, even when I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t going to play last year, but I knew one day my time would come. Now, here it is. I’ve just got to keep the same mindset and prepare like it’s my job.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do.”
Cushenberry spent his redshirt season cross training at all three interior line positions. He found a home at center during the spring, filling in admirably while starter Will Clapp — a converted guard in his own right — recovered from offseason surgery.
A local product out of Dutchtown High, Cushenberry has drawn praise from coaches since arriving on campus last summer. It started with Les Miles, an aficionado of interior line play, and continued on under Ed Orgeron.
Making the full-time move to guard required some subtle adjustments. Pass protection is different, there’s far more pulling and it generally requires going against quicker defenders.
“Me starting at center, I already know what everyone else needs to do,” Cushenberry said. “Now I can just move and do it.”
What makes him such a useful Swiss army knife of an interior lineman?
Aside from a willingness to learn, he’s a bright kid and dutiful student of the game.
“He’s a smart kid,” Clapp said. “He came in and got to work, and he’s really strong in his lower body. He works hard every day. He tackles everything that we give him and I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops over camp.”
“Lloyd is a good dude. He’s real quiet and he’s real smart,” right tackle Toby Weathersby added. “He knows this whole offense from front to back. Having him next to me and just rocking and rolling with him, it makes me feel even better about what’s going on on the right side.”
That makes him especially valuable on a unit that has just 11 healthy and available scholarship players, the result of a calendar year of attrition that’s seen five players transfer and a signee not join the program: Teuhema, Chidi Okeke, Willie Allen, Andy Dodd, George Brown and Seth Stewart (signee).
Some simple math says that’s a full five-man offensive line plus one extra having walked out the door.
“I’m not going to say it’s something that’s imaginary and nobody thinks about,” Brumfield said. “But we have the group of guys that we have, and it doesn’t take 20-25 guys. We’re only going to be able to play five at a time. The next guy who needs to get in there and handle the job, I expect that they’ll be ready.”
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