By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
For the first time since the opening week of training camp, LSU has apparently had its complete first-team offensive line on the field together.
Center Will Clapp returned to the practice field Monday, the junior told reporters. He missed all of last week, including the second preseason game, due to an unspecified injury that he says has nothing to do with his offseason shoulder surgery.
“It’s good to be back,” Clapp said Tuesday. “I’ve been getting a lot of mental reps, but it’s good to be back in the swing of things and taking reps. Knocking off a little bit of the rust that accumulated over having a week off, but being back in there is fun.”
Clapp indicated he’s back working at center and said he hasn’t taken a practice rep at guard since the Citrus Bowl.
Though he didn’t elaborate, that likely means Lloyd Cushenberry, who had worked at center in his place since the spring, is back competing at right guard. Freshman Edward Ingram started Saturday’s scrimmage in right guard with Cushenberry still at center.
Right tackle Toby Weathersby, who’d also missed time with an undisclosed injury, scrimmaged with the first team Saturday. Left tackle K.J. Malone returned to practice last week and scrimmaged after dealing with a minor injury during the first week of camp.
While it’s a relief for LSU to have its starting five back after two weeks of bumps and bruises, the first-team reps taken in their stead by newcomers like Ingram and tackles Austin Deculus and Saahdiq Charles could prove beneficial toward developing depth down the road.
“It’s been fun,” Weathersby said. “Those young guys have been asking a lot of questions and having a lot of fun. Us up front, we enjoy helping them out.”
“They didn’t crumble at all and they made those reps count,” Clapp said.
All that shuffling in and out of the lineup does raise questions about chemistry amid a seeming lack of continuity.
Good offensive line play is in part about five individuals playing as one unit. Cohesions and chemistry can be as important in the trenches as talent and brute strength.
Consider that only left guard Garrett Brumfield is the only starter who hasn’t either missed time in camp or slid around to multiple positions.
With LSU set to turn its attention to BYU Monday, the offensive line is now on the clock to make up for lost time in terms to developing the necessary chemistry. The now-healthy veterans expressed confidence in where that process is.
“The communication is there,” Weathersby said. “Everybody knows what they’re supposed to do. It’s just about knowing the offense. Once you learn the offense, it doesn’t affect anything.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron raved about the way LSU run blocked in preseason game two. Now seemingly whole, it’ll be interesting to monitor if the group’s pass protection improves with Clapp back in the fold.