The 2013 LSU offensive line will be a strength. The 2013 LSU offensive line will be a weakness. The 2013 LSU offensive line has experience. The 2013 LSU offensive line lacks experience.
It seems depending upon who you listen to, you'll get any of the above answers regarding this year's crop of offensive lineman. What's the true answer? As always, somewhere in the middle. While the Tigers will be paced by players like La'el Collins and Trai Turner, there will be number of fresh faces and new positions across the offensive line. Whether or not this unit gels will have a noticeable effect on this year's offense, and might be the difference between a good or great year. More past the jump.
LSU Offensive Linemen (only scholarship players listed)
|Elliot Porter||C||6'4"||300lbs||Jr||Played in 10 games, starting in 1|
|Ethan Pocic||C||6'7"||301lbs||Fr||5-star recruit|
|Fehoka Fanaika||OG||6'6"||348lbs||Jr||JUCO Transfer|
|Trai Turner||OG||6'3"||316lbs||So||Played in 12 games, starting in 7|
|Jonah Austin||OG||6'6"||324lbs||So||4-star recruit, RS|
|Josh Williford||OG||6'7"||343lbs||Sr||Will not play due to concussion|
|K.J. Malone||OL||6'3"||290lbs||Fr||3-star recruit|
|Andy Dodd||OL||6'4"||322lbs||Fr||4-star recruit|
|Josh Boutte||OL||6'4"||333lbs||Fr||4-star recruit|
|Vadal Alexander||OT||6'6"||342lbs||So||Played in 13 games, starting in 9|
|La'El Collins||OT||6'5"||315lbs||Jr||Played and started 13 games|
|Derek Edinburgh||OT||6'8"||333lbs||Fr||4-star recruit, RS|
|Jerald Hawkins||OT||6'6"||301lbs||Fr||4-star recruit, RS|
|Evan Washington||OT||6'6"||334lbs||Jr||Sat out '12 with academic issues|
While this offensive line will feature only three of the same starters from a year ago, it does have guys who saw significant playing time dispered throughout the depth chart. La'el Collins has been moved out to tackle, while fellow returning starter Trai Turner will fill in at guard, Porter at center, Alexander moving in to guard, and freshman Jerald Hawkins at the other tackle spot.
So while a number of these guys have starts under their belt, only Collins started every game last year as a returning starter. He'll anchor a line that has lots of youth. The only senior is Williford and it's been announced he'll be a student coach this year after suffering probably a career-ending concussion in fall camp.
The key will be this starting unit staying healthy and becoming one together. While there is lots of talent behind the starters, very little has any real game experience, which is the worry. Offensive line is probably the most important unit on the field as far as unit cohesion. For an analogy, it would be better to have an offensive line made up of 3- and 4-star guys that have played 3 years together than a line chock full of 5-stars that have never played together. Playing next to each other is key. Linemen have to play off of each others block and know what the other guy is going to do.
This unit will not have much of that experience to start the season, but the immense talent each player holds means this line might finish as one of LSU's best in recent memory.
Again, the key is staying healthy. Last year's line was derailed by injury after injury all season, which let to Mettenberger being one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the conference. If the offense is going to become more productive, especially in the passing game, it's imperative the offensive line stay healthy and grow together.