ATLANTA — Youth and inexperience abound on LSU’s roster heading into the 2018 season, but there’s no shortage of talent.
Ed Orgeron met with reporters before hitting the main stage at SEC Media Days Monday, shedding light on a number of topics, including some of his newcomers.
LSU loses 13 starters from last season’s 9-4 team that also won six SEC games, the program’s most since 2012.
To replace those departures, Orgeron will need to rely on a host of fresh faces, particularly true freshmen.
One Orgeron was asked about specifically was running back Chris Curry. The four-star Florida native arrived in Baton Rouge this summer at 6-foot tall and 213 pounds and with a great chance to pick up carries with the exits of Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams.
“I think he’s going to have to get carries for us,” Orgeron said. “We may have to play three running backs this year. Hopefully he’s one of them.”
Perhaps the position best boosted by LSU’s 2018 signing class was receiver. 247Sports.com named the Tigers’ 2018 receiving class the best in the country, and they’ve had big summers, Orgeron says.
“You look at Jamar Chase, Kenan Jones, that freshman wide receiver group we have, Terrace Marshall,” Orgeron said. “You think he was a veteran already because he was mid-year. Those guys are showing out.”
On the other side of the ball, LSU needs immediate impact players at nose tackle and cornerback, where Greg Gilmore, Kevin Toliver, and Donte Jackson left holes to be filled. Orgeron is also looking for someone to step up next to Devin White at linebacker.
“You look at a guy like Dare Rosenthal on defense, and Kelvin Joseph at cornerback. Those guys are really showing out,” Orgeron said. “Also, Damone Clark from right there in Baton Rouge. Those are some things that have been sticking out to Tommy Moffitt from our workouts.”
College football’s new redshirt rule permits players to play in four games and still receive a redshirt to retain an extra year of eligibility.
Orgeron is a big fan of the rule. In fact, he wishes it’d been enacted sooner.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “We have a lot of players who have gone and left LSU that would still be on our football team if we had that rule, some very important players.”
The additional window of evaluation provided by players getting four games is something Orgeron sees as a plus for both players and coaches. The new rule, Orgeron says, acts as a buffer against the freshman wall, and he plans to use as much of a player’s permitted playing time as he can before deciding whether or not to issue the final redshirt after four games.
“We signed 22 freshmen last year, we played 20,” he said. “Some started the first game and hit that freshman wall and didn’t play toward the end of the season. That would be a guy we’d obviously redshirt.
“It gives us more flexibility. We play every one of our freshmen that we could then redshirt them at the point we can, but use them to the fullness we can and use those four games.”