LSU Tigers linebacker Damone Clark (35) celebrates after a sack on Georgia Southern Eagles quarterback Shai Werts (1) during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Expect to see a lot of LSU's underclassmen this weekend

WWL Newsroom
September 13, 2019 - 2:11 pm

By Tim Zimmer

The next few weeks could not only shape LSU’s season, but reveal if this is coach Ed Orgeron’s most complete team yet. With the new redshirt rule, players are allowed to play up to four games without losing a year of eligibility, the Tigers will be able to get plenty opportunities to see their young players grow as LSU heads into the final stretch of the season.

The Tigers are loaded with impact upperclassmen like, cornerback Kristian Fulton, defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, linebacker Michael Divinity Jr., safety Grant Delpit and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But freshman and sophomores will have to step up later in the season if LSU wants to beat the likes of Alabama and Georgia (assuming they meet in the Atlanta of the SEC championship).

LSU’s upcoming schedule has them as heavy favorites in the next three games. (Northwestern State, Vanderbilt and Utah State). This will allow the backups to gain valuable experience as depth and injury replacements.

The Tigers have more than a few young stars on the team that could potentially play a role throughout the year.

There’s already two true freshman making an impact this season cornerback Derick Stingley Jr. and kicker Cade York. York has yet to miss a FG this season and was a pivotal 3-for-3 against Texas.

Stingley Jr., starting opposite of Fulton, has shown his skills so far returning an electric punt return for 30+ yards against Georgia Southern and being left on an island vs. Texas only lock down one of the Big-12’s best wide receivers in Collin Johnson.

Rashard Lawrence, Glen Logan and K’Lavon Chaisson were pretty banged up after the win in Austin. Expect guys like Tyler Shelvin, Siaki Ika, and Justin Thomas to see a significant bump in playing time.

The Tigers can get by without their best defensive linemen against Northwestern State and Vanderbilt, but facing Florida shorthanded will be a challenge. The Gators gashed LSU last season rushing for 215 yards.

Senior LB Michael Divinity Jr did not play against Georgia Southern leading to a breakout game from sophomore Damone Clark. Clark was all over the field against the Eagles and played valuable minutes against the Longhorns. Clark is fighting for playing time with not only Divinity, but other linebackers like Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips. While it’s a good problem to have, Clark is slowly gaining the trust of coaching staff and could see significant minutes in late October-November.

In the defensive backfield, the Tigers have an future first-round draft pick in safety Grant Delpit. He won’t be on the field late in these next few games. Expect freshman Marcel Brooks to get some playing time. Brooks filled in last week and made highlight tackle. Brooks was a five-star recruit rated the fifth-best player coming out of Texas last year. Freshman cornerback Cordale Flott also received playing time when Kristian Fulton was out against Texas. The fact that Orgeron sent Flott and Brooks out in the biggest game of the season, so far, shows the trust they have in these two freshmen. 

Over at the running back position, junior Clyde Edwards-Helaire and senior Lanard Fournette have seen most of the playing time in the new up-tempo offense. While they may not be the most talented RBs on the roster, they have the trust of the offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Joe Brady.

Fans will get another good look at the running back depth chart this week when freshmen John Emery Jr and Tyrion Davis-Price get carries against the Demons. Expect to see one of these two backs slowly take over the Leonard Fournette role of being the every down ball carrier.

For the next three weeks, fans will get a glimpse of the future of this team and the Tigers have a good chance at being 5-0 heading into their match-up against Florida. That will be the stretch of the season that determines LSU’s playoff chances.

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