Notebook | Damone Clark stepped up in scrimmage with LSU suddenly shorthanded at inside linebacker

Things can change quickly in fall camp. Inside linebacker went from one of the deepest positions on LSU’s roster to a spot that’s dangerously thin in just a matter of days.

LSU scrimmaged Saturday with just three of its six scholarship linebackers available, according to LSU coach Ed Orgeron. The two starters remain intact, but suddenly linebacker is a bit of a concern from a depth perspective.

“It’s a problem right now,” Orgeron told reporters at his post-scrimmage presser. “It’s a problem, and (LSU defensive coordinator) Dave (Aranda) has done a good job.”

That’s the result of what’s been a tumultuous week at the position.

First sophomore Tyler Taylor, who started five games as a true freshman, was suspended indefinitely due to an offseason arrest that came to light earlier this week. Orgeron declined to comment on the situation, calling it “a legal matter.”

Sophomore Patrick Queen also didn’t practice due to an unspecified injury. Freshman Micah Baskerville is currently out with a foot injury that’s kept him from practicing for the past few days.

The beneficiary of their absences seemed to be freshman Damone Clark, who Orgeron praised as a standout from the scrimmage. He was credited with 5 ½ tackles, according to Orgeron, the third-most of any player the coach mentioned.

“He looked good at both inside linebacker spots,” Orgeron said. “He came downhill and knew his assignments. He’s a very smart player and was physical.”

Orgeron also gave credit to walk-on linebacker Kody Hall from Texas, who presumably took second-team reps alongside Clark with Taylor, Queen and Baskerville unavailable.

“Great young man,” Orgeron said. “His dad is a coach. He stepped in, knows where to go. He has stepped up.”

O ON FULTON

LSU learned on Thursday that the NCAA had upheld the two-year suspension of cornerback Kristian Fulton, essentially ruling him out for the 2018 season.

Fulton had been taking first- and second-team reps at cornerback before the NCAA decision came down, but Orgeron conceded that his practice time will be dialed back a bit now that other players who can contribute this season will need the reps.

“Everybody was disappointed,” Orgeron said. “Obviously we thought the outcome was going to come the other way. All of the team was disappointed. All the coaching staff was disappointed. But you know we can’t blink. That’s the circumstance, and we’ve got to deal with it.

“I’ve got to give it to Kristian and his family. They’re fighters. They’ve been positive, and they’re not going to give up. We’re going to continue to work Kristian in. Obviously not as somebody who is going to play this year, but when he gets his chance, he is going to be one heck of a player for the LSU Tigers.”

LSU was without Greedy Williams and Mannie Netherly for Saturday’s scrimmage due to unspecified injuries. Orgeron said Terrence Alexander and Kelvin Joseph saw extended playing time at cornerback with Kary Vincent and Jonte Kirklin also getting work in the scrimmage.

“Those guys had a good day,” Orgeron said.

PERSONNEL NUGGETS

– Wide receiver Stephen Sullivan is getting looks at tight end in order to find additional playing time for the 6-foot-7 receiver and fill a void created by the injury to Jamal Pettigrew. Orgeron wasn’t sure how much he played at tight end in Saturday’s scrimmage, but it’s a move LSU is continuing to consider moving forward.

– JaCoby Stevens has worked “in a number of spots” around the defensive backfield, Orgeron said. It’s unclear what he meant — it’ll be inquired about at a future presser — but he presumably meant both safety and nickel back.

– Lloyd Cushenberry is taking all of the first-team reps at center at this point, Orgeron said. If he’s unable to do the job, Garrett Brumfield would slide over from guard to play there.

About James Moran 1377 Articles
James Moran was Editor of Tiger Rag from August 2018 to October 2019. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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