Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Young LSU linebackers expected to step up against UCF at Fiesta Bowl

December 13, 2018 - 10:51 am

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the team that plays against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 won’t be the same team that played in the regular season, and that statement holds especially true for the Tigers’ defense.

In addition to losing cornerbacks Greedy Williams to an early exit designed to protect his draft status and Kristian Fulton to a season-ending injury, LSU will also be without linebacker Jacob Phillips due to a targeting ejection in the fourth overtime of the Tigers’ 74-72, seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the regular-season finale.

As a result, LSU will have to move some pieces around in the back half of its front seven. During his first in-person media availability session since the season ended, Orgeron hinted that moving Patrick Queen back inside could be the answer to some of the issues.

“I think you can look at Patrick Queen, maybe move him back to (inside) linebacker and see whose the best one there,” Orgeron said.
Sophomore Patrick Queen spent the last couple games of the season at outside linebacker, which got him out of Devin White’s shadow a bit and gave him more playing time.

Queen’s versatility has become a handy asset for the Tigers as they’ve been able to move him around and let him show his worth at multiple positions, making him a more rounded athlete and setting him up for success in the future.

It’s a blessing because like playing behind Devin and getting a few reps a few series per game, then being told to play outside and get a lot more playing time is a good feeling,” Queen said. “It means they’re not giving up on you. They’re giving you a chance to play.’
Queen said he still hasn’t gotten official word of what position he’ll be playing in the Fiesta Bowl, but he said he’s up for whatever defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and the coaching staff have planned for him.

“Coach Aranda just told me to stay ready,” Queen said. “He doesn’t know yet on the final decision, so I’m going to come out and compete.”

Other young linebackers are also expected to get some playing time, including freshman Micah Baskerville who has 18 tackles this season.

Thankfully for LSU, junior inside linebacker and Butkus Award winner Devin White wasted no time declaring he would play in the bowl game despite being a projected Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft in a number of draft boards from multiple national publications.

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