We've already taken a look at the quarterbacks and offensive skill positions as well as the offensive linemen and tight ends. Today we'll turn our attention to the defensive line.
How They Exit Spring … After the surprise departure of DE Jordan Allen, who has completed his undergraduate studies and is seeking a transfer, LSU finds itself shorter in numbers than anticipated at end. Position coach Brick Haley's top three returning players are Jermauria Rasco, who didn't participate in spring practice while rehabbing from shoulder surgery; Danielle Hunter, who terrorized opposing quarterbacks in the spring game; and rising sophomore Tashawn Bower. On the interior the Tigers generated some positive momentum this spring. DTs Christian Lacouture and Quentin Thomas established themselves as the starters, and redshirt freshman Maquedius Bain took a big step forward in the race for a rotational/platoon spot. Overall LSU's pass rush should improve in 2014, bolstered by the continued development of the freakish Hunter, but the Tigers still have ground to make up at tackle following the departure of 2013 mainstays Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson.
Addressing Spring Storyline … The question posed in the above primer on March 4: "Are any of the young defensive tackles going to step up and show something?" The answer: Bain reportedly showed the most, but opportunity still exists for both Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron, who's slotting in more at tackle than end entering his second year in the program. All three actually performed pretty well in the spring game, logging considerable snaps playing with the Purple Team. Herron had four tackles and a sack while Bain added four tackles and Gilmore three. The redshirt freshmen threesome will be tested come August when three new signees at the position arrive, but spring ball was beneficial in getting their motors running.
Offseason Priorities … At the top of the list is a thorough recovery for Rasco from his offseason shoulder surgery. Hunter may be blossoming into LSU's best pass-rusher, but Rasco, on the cusp of his senior season, is the team's best overall – and most experienced – defensive end. After that the development of some of the Tigers' expected depth along the defensive line is important. Returning players like Bain and defensive end Lewis Neal will be counted on in the two-deep. How they approach this summer in the weight room to prepare themselves for their roles will be critical. The same applies for incoming freshmen, particularly Travonte Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao, who have a chance at playing in year one at defensive tackle.