LSU Tigers defense set for primetime performance

WWL Newsroom
September 04, 2019 - 8:14 pm

By Tim Zimmer

The LSU defense will face its biggest challenge of the early 2019 season this week when they head up to Austin to face the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns Saturday. Dave Aranda and the LSU Tigers haven’t missed a beat this year, coming in with the fifth best defense in the country.

Last season, the Tigers finished with a top-30 defense that included NFL first-round draft picks like Devin White and Greedy Williams. To say that this year’s defense could be even better wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

The Tigers return one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the SEC, K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson, who is originally from Houston, played against Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger while in high school and says he’s been looking forward to this matchup.

Chaisson suffered a season-ending injury in the Tigers’ 2018 opener and worked this entire offseason to get himself ready for a breakout year in 2019. LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Chaisson's recovery and workouts have made him an even better player.

“He's gained some weight obviously,” Orgeron said. “He's very thick. He has a great lower body, has a lot of strength in his lower body. He's worked hard. This injury allowed him to get stronger in the weight room. Tommy (Moffitt) has done a tremendous job with this guy.”

One Tiger that didn’t see the field on Saturday was senior linebacker Michael Divinity Jr. Coach O didn’t state why Divinity didn’t see the field against Georgia Southern, but he’s expected to play and fill the shoes of former LSU linebacker and Butkus Award winner Devin White.

“Obviously we're going to work Michael back in. We think Michael is an excellent linebacker for us, can play at the line of scrimmage when we need him,” said Orgeron during his press conference on Tuesday.

Filling that role last Saturday was Jacob Philips and Damone Clark. Clark made his first ever career start last Saturday and impressed the coaching staff, recording nine tackles.

“We'll see how we can work those guys in. Maybe a first down situation with somebody else, third down situation with somebody else. Play all four of them equal snaps, they deserve it,” said Orgeron when asked about the playing time of his linebackers this upcoming week.

Regardless of who’s on the field, LSU’s defense will have to make plays against one of the best QBs in the Big 12. The Longhorns will have to find a way to generate offense after losing their starting RB in their 45-14 win against Louisiana Tech.

Freshman running back Jordan Whittington will miss the game on Saturday with a sports hernia. Two upperclassman, Kirk Johnson and Daniel Young, suffered injuries in camp and have already been ruled out for the game. This means the Longhorns will be left with Keaontay Ingram and converted freshman QB Roschon Johnson as the remaining backs.

If the Tigers can get the win in Austin, it’ll be a statement game that not only will help the program for the remainder of the season, but long-term with recruiting.

 “It helps us in recruiting. Obviously Texas is a big area for us in recruiting. This is going to be a big game for us in recruiting. There's a lot of things going on this weekend that can help us even get a better class,” said Orgeron.

Saturday night will mark the first time since 1970 that the LSU Tigers will face a top-10 non-conference opponent on the road. They’ll be hoping for better luck this time around as they fell to the No. 6 Notre Dame Irish, 3-0 in that meeting.

Kickoff between the Tigers and Longhorns can be heard at 6:30 p.m. on WWL Radio.

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