LSU will likely have a new man protecting Joe Burrow’s blindside on Saturday night.
Left tackle Saahdiq Charles is “very questionable” to play against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said at his post-practice press conference Thursday evening.
Charles has been in and out of practice all week with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t practice on Monday or Wednesday despite being a full participant on Tuesday.
“He’s very questionable,” Orgeron said. “Very questionable.”
Junior Badara Traore will make the start at left tackle in the event Charles isn’t able to go. Austin Deculus filled in when Charles was suspended for the Southeastern game, but he’s since been moved to right tackle. This would mean LSU starting its fourth different offensive line combination in as many weeks.
LSU discussed flipping Deculus back to left tackle against Louisiana Tech and having Traore play right tackle, but the staff opted for continuity on the right side of the line with the thinking being that Charles won’t be out long term.
Another factor is star Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, a two-time All-Conference USA performer who registered 21.5 sacks in his first two seasons as a starter. Ferguson plays all over the defensive front, making it impossible to try to get one tackle matched up against him versus the other.
“They’ve got a great end, but the great end plays on both sides,” Orgeron said. “If he was just a right end, we might flip flop Austin, so it’s smart of them. We’ll just keep Austin at right tackle and hopefully Saahdiq will only be out one week.”
The plan will be to help either tackle — and Traore in particular — when they’re matched up with Ferguson, but Orgeron knows there will be times that one guy has to handle the difficult assignment alone.
“He’s a good speed rusher with long arms,” Orgeron said. “He has a good bull rush. He has good technique. We’re going to have to block him one-on-one, and there’s going to be times where we’re going to have to win.”
- Tight end Thaddeus Moss is also “very questionable” to suit up against Louisiana Tech. Orgeron said earlier this week that Moss was expected to make his LSU debut on Saturday, but that has apparently become less likely as the week has gone on.
- Jontre Kirklin worked at punt returner during practice Wednesday and could see time there on Saturday, Orgeron said. LSU likes the speed the cornerback could bring to the return game.
- Linebacker Ray Thornton is questionable to play against Louisiana Tech, Orgeron said. Thornton logged a full week of practice after getting hurt on the opening kickoff against Auburn. Andre Anthony would see additional time if Thornton can’t go.