It was always going to take a village to fill the void left by losing pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson for the season to a knee injury, but at least one potential replacement has emerged in practice this week.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron didn’t go so far as to name a new starter at the ‘Buck’ outside linebacker spot, but he shared some thoughts on who impressed him as the position opened up heading into Saturday’s home opener against Southeastern.
“You’ve got to look at Ray Thornton,” Orgeron said at his post-practice presser Thursday night. “I think he’s done a good job. Andre Anthony, I think he’s done a good job. Michael Divinity had a strong camp. I think Travez Moore has come along. Those guys are going to play more, and we’re going to need them.
“But if you’re looking for anybody who has stepped up, I’d say it’s been Ray Thornton and Andre Anthony.”
Thornton and Divinity began the season as co-starters at the ‘Field’ outside linebacker spot, but Orgeron confirmed that both players are capable of playing at either position. Anthony took Chaisson’s place when he went down in the fourth quarter against Miami.
Beyond simple personnel changes, Orgeron hinted that losing Chaisson will result in necessary changes to the way Dave Aranda calls his defense. Aranda himself said once that he used to keep two plans when LSU had a predominant edge rusher in Arden Key: the plan for if Key played and the plan for if he didn’t.
“There were times, like with Arden, that we’d call things to make sure K’Lavon was in the right position to rush,” Orgeron said. “I don’t know if we have to do that as much, but maybe one of these guys will emerge as a premier rusher. We viewed K’Lavon as a premier rusher, so we moved him around. We still have the ability to do that, but we’ll see.”
O ON FCS FOES
Orgeron played his collegiate ball at Northwestern State. Through four years as a Demon he never played in a larger stadium than Tulsa, much less a 100,000-seat cathedral of college football.
With that in mind, the coach reiterated his support for programs like LSU hosting in-state opponents like Southeastern, even if they’re from the FCS level.
“It’s the game of their life,” Orgeron said. “Some of them weren’t recruited here. Some of them were and maybe something happened where they didn’t come. They’re playing at Tiger Stadium in front of 100,000 people. They’re going to play lights out.”
The coach continued: “I think it’s excellent for us to play our state schools. They get a little money. Those guys get a little exposure. I think any time those schools can play us, it helps them in recruiting and it helps us bond together.”
- Cornerback Greedy Williams is expected to play against Southeastern, Orgeron said. Williams practiced in a yellow non-contact jersey on Wednesday.
- On Badara Traore, who is the starter at right tackle with Adrian Magee out: “When you’re battling for a position, you’re battling every day and don’t know if you’re going to start or not. Then when you get it, ‘You know what, here I am. I’ve got it.’ Now he knows he’s starting. He knows he’s playing. There’s a certain relief that it takes the pressure off him and he can concentrate on what he needs to get better at.”
- On Joe Burrow: “This is his offense now. This is his team. He’s leading it and the guys have gelled around him. I can see the camaraderie around him. I can see the camaraderie around Myles Brennan, who is still in the mix. I think it’s a relief for our offense that we know who our quarterback is. They’ve seen that Joe can be a general out there and do the right things. We’re going to take the next step this week for sure.”