LSU returns four of their five starters from 2013’s offensive line. One of the positive story lines of the offseason thus far was LSU’s coup in keeping all conference tackle La’El Collins on the team, rather than declare for the NFL. The only departure was Trai Turner, who was a surprise, but having everyone else back is a huge positive for the 2014 offense. The new-look offense–complete with a new QB and starting RB–will be anchored by the 2014 line.
|Elliot Porter||Sr.||12 starts in 2013|
|La’El Collins||Sr.||12 starts in 2013|
|Fehoka Fanaika||Sr.||Played in 12 games as backup|
|Evan Washington||Sr.||Played in 12 games as backup, 1 start in 2013|
|Vadal Alexander||Jr.||13 starts in 2013|
|Jonah Austin||Jr.||Played in 7 games as backup|
|Jerald Hawkins||So.||13 starts in 2013|
|Josh Boutte||So.||Played in 8 games as backup|
|Ethan Pocic||So.||Played in 6 games as backup, 1 start in 2013|
|Andy Dodd||RS-Fr.||4-star recruit, redshirted|
|K.J. Malone||RS-Fr.||3-star recruit, redshirted|
|William Clapp||Fr.||4-star recruit|
|Garrett Brumfield||Fr.||4-star recruit|
Returning starters above are in bold.
How they fared last year
LSU’s refreshingly dynamic offense last season was anchored by a solid line that was fantastic at ripping gaping holes for running backs such as Jeremy Hill and Terrance Magee to rip through, but had it’s issues in pass protection. According to advanced stats, the Tigers were thoroughly mediocre in passing downs, which no doubt wasn’t helped by the immobile Zach Mettenberger. La’el Collins & Vadal Alexander on the left made for a formidable pair, as the Tiger offense generally ran to their side. Jerald Hawkins was an unexpected starter for last season, but held up well enough for a freshman, despite missing on assignments and struggling with pass protection schemes. The full year of experience, though, bodes well for Hawkins going into 2014, as it does for all of the other returning starters.
What to expect
The 2014 offensive line could be the strongest unit of the offense. New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes should bring new concepts to the unit & help them further improve. With so much returning experience, the emphasis is on building depth behind them. With only Alexander, Washington, & Pocic having experience at tackle behind the starters, LSU will want to develop the young guys to be able to play any position if needed. Ethan Pocic is more of a tackle, but his one start this past year was at center. Thus far this spring, he’s not worked at center, as K.J. Malone has gotten reps instead.
LSU could lose as many as 3 starters next season, so getting the second-line guys as many reps as possible is paramount. That’s not to mention possible work during the season, as Vadal Alexander and others dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year that limited some of their playing time. Incoming freshmen such as Will Clapp & Garrett Brumfield will most likely redshirt when they arrive in the fall, but they could provide depth deeper into the season if needed.
By and large, this is a solid line for 2014. The new main ingredient is of course Grimes & what he could bring to the table. In addition to the longterm goal of building depth, Grimes adding to the current offensive line could help take this unit to the top of the conference. With a new quarterback & backfield, the line will be counted on to protect & open holes. LSU will lean on it, especially early in the season.