LSU coach Ed Orgeron announced Tuesday that senior linebacker Michael Divinity had been reinstated.
Then on Thursday following the team’s first practice after the holiday break, Orgeron said Divinity would start in LSU’s dime packages against Clemson in the Jan. 13 College Football Playoff national championship game.
Divinity left the team to tend to personal matters right before the Alabama game on November 4, but came back and started practicing with the team again less than two weeks later.
Following LSU’s Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl evisceration of Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals last Saturday, the New Orleans native tweeted “I’m Back. See Y’all Back In My City On January 13th.”
“I trust Mike,” Orgeron said. “Mike’s a senior. He played a big price in sitting out and coming back. He could have left the team and went to train for the NFL. He didn’t do that. He wanted to stay with this team. He thought we were going to be in this game so he’s been practicing and everything else so he’s not going to be punished. He did what he’s supposed to do and he’ll be ready to play.
Divinity has recorded 23 tackles in the five games he has played. He has four tackles for a loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble.
LSU’s defense has adapted well in Divinity’s absence, particularly with Patrick Queen emerging as a key player at inside linebacker. But Divinity’s skills in the pass rush can be invaluable.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was full speed in practice making cuts, and by all accounts he’ll be ready to go. Edwards-Helaire had been limited against Oklahoma because of a hamstring injury.
“Clyde practiced today with no limitations, ready to go,” said Orgeron. “(LSU head athletic trainer Jack Marucci) usually says ‘limited’ or ‘day to day’, but he felt good. Obviously, we’re not going to scrimmage and the next time he’s going to go full tilt it’s going to be game day. But I think he’s going to fine.”
Edwards-Helaire easily leads the team in rushing with 1,304 yards and 16 TDs on 199 attempts. If you were to add all the yards from backups Tyrion Davis-Price, john Emery, and Chris Curry, you would end up with less than half of the yards Edwards-Helaire has produced running and receiving.
While Edwards-Helaire was on “emergency only use” vs. Oklahoma, backup running back Chris Curry rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries and delivered some punishing blows to the Sooners’ secondary. That performance was good enough to make the former fourth-stringer now second in line after Edwards-Helaire.
“There was a time when he was a fourth string back but he proved to our coaches that he was able to play,” Orgeron said. “(Running backs coach) Tommie Robinson got him ready to play, (offensive coordinator) Steve Ensminger believed in him and I thought he did a tremendous job.
“We liked the way he played. He’s going to be second team behind Clyde. Obviously we haven’t discussed that but he got second team reps today. We like to play all those backs.”
Orgeron also provided updates on wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and offensive lineman Damien Lewis.
Marshall will miss practice for a few days, but Orgeron believes he will be okay and ready to roll for the national championship. Lewis’ outlook is a little more cloudy, but Orgeron is leaving open the possibility that he’ll be good to go against Clemson.