By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
There was a time not too long ago Dave Aranda informed Ed Orgeron of a particular mathematical imbalance in LSU’s roster.
Before the Tigers signed their 2017 class, there were more kickers on scholarship than linebackers – a fact Aranda, LSU’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, hoped his boss might help correct.
Those days seem a distant memory this fall, thanks to a talented crop of newcomers.
Orgeron has spent much of the fall complimenting the play of Jacob Phillips, Tyler Taylor, and Patrick Queen, all of whom he signed as part of his inaugural recruiting class. After Saturday’s scrimmage, that praise continued.
Taylor and Phillips, in particular, impressed, each registering 7 tackles and a sack. Taylor added a tackle for loss.
“Another tremendous day for those young freshman linebackers,” Orgeron said.
Orgeron described the two as “neck and neck” for the back up duties behind Donnie and Alexander at middle linebacker. He also said recent scholarship recipient Jonathan Rucker could play at that spot, as well, and did not give any stats for Queen or Alexander.
It’s not the first time Orgeron has seen impact first-year players at the linebacker spot. He cited the 1989 Miami defense featuring Jesse Armstead, Darrin Smith and Michael Barrow as one similarly stocked with freshmen.
“Later on we had a young man named Ray Lewis,” he added. “I’m not about to put anyone in Ray Lewis’ category yet.”
It’s not just the natural precociousness of his young defenders Orgeron cites for their readiness. He also points to the offense they’ve faced all camp as helping speed up their learning curve.
“I do believe going against Matt (Canada)’s offense, it gives our young linebackers an advantage,” Orgeron said. “There are shifts in motions every play, there’s resetting the defense, there’s calling the defense. I think it tests their mental capacity. When people are going to line up in vanilla offenses and run the same formation and the same play, it’s going to be a lot easier for those guys.”