We know that our defense is stocked with potential playmakers, but how are they doing so far in spring practice and what should we look for in the Spring Game? Well…
Our linebackers will be feared by opponents and respected by coaches. I predict Devin White will lead the nation in tackles this year. With White in the middle what else do we need! Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor, who both showed flashes as freshman last year, are competing for the spot next to White and drawing a lot of praise. The Spring game will give us all a good look at those two, as well as Patrick Queen. In the bench linebacker spot, K’Lavon Chaisson appears to have the position but Travez Moore will be seeing the field plenty too, and don’t count out freshman Jeryl Cherry. Chaisson’s goliath dimensions at 6’4 feet and 240 pounds remind me of LSU’s last linebacker/edge rusher to play that spot, Arden Key. If Chaisson can build on last year and profit from a year of training, I think we could have an All-SEC edge rusher on our defense. I expect Dave Aranda to take full advantage of this intimidating corps, calling blitzes, asking them to help out in coverage, etc.
At cornerback, what we lack in depth we can make up in talent. We’re all worried about our depth at corner but what we’re not doing is fully appreciating the talent that we DO have at corner. “Greedy” Williams is looking to improve on his sensational 2017 season. Remember that one-handed, diving interception that Kary Vincent made as a freshman last year? I’m still trying to decide if the fact that two of our corners were quarterbacks in high school (Jontre Kirklin and Mannie Netherly) is a problem or just an applaud to their superhuman athleticism. If it’s the latter, I think we’re set just as long as we stay healthy. Our safeties are going to be strong with seniors John Battle and Ed Paris as well as experienced sophomores Eric Monroe and Grant Delpit. That could be a help if we do run into problems with depth during the season. I’d like to see how our secondary hangs with the first team wide receivers in the spring game.
The trenches will be deeper and more experienced than ever before. We have leaders like Rashard Lawrence and Ed Alexander on their third year and then we have younger guys like Glen Thomas, Breiden Fehoko, Neil Farrell, and Davin Cotton. Coach O has talked about them making goal line stops in scrimmages. I can picture those big brutal guys busting up the middle and wreaking havoc in the backfield. This group will be exciting to watch in the spring game. We’ll see if Tyler Shelvin has thinned down and if Breiden Fehoko is as good as he sounds.
On Saturday, I look forward to many of these questions being answered!