- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
BATON ROUGE, La. -- On the first of many LSU touchdowns during LSU's 41-3 win over Washington Saturday, left tackle Josh Dworaczyk was asked to reach to his left to block Huskies rush end Josh Shirley.
Dworaczyk not only got there, but he turned Shirley to the right, creating a gaping seam that running back Alfred Blue used to gallop through to a 21-yard touchdown.
It was known that Dworaczyk, a sixth-year senior who served as a de facto sideline offensive line coach while he missed last season with a knee injury, could handle the mental part of the position. On that play, he showed that he could could physically get the job done as well.
"It was definitely something you always want to see as far as from an offensive lineman," Dworaczyk said. "You want that block come from you, to be able to spring a running back. Definitely for Blue, it made it easier for him when we got the edge."
LSU must have liked what it saw from Dworaczyk, who is again listed as the starting left tackle for Saturday's game against Idaho.
Dworaczyk moved into a starting spot last week after starter Chris Faulk, a projected first-round NFL draft pick by many, was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in practice. After announcing Faulk's injury, Tigers coach Les Miles mentioned the move of Dworaczyk as one of many options LSU had at the postion. Others included moving left guard La'el Collins (putting Dworaczyk at left guard) or moving right tackle Alex Hurst (and starting true freshman Vadal Alexander at right tackle).
Dworaczyk got the start at left tackle and, after film review of that debut, Miles seemed more committed Monday to the idea of sticking with what worked against Washington.
"His background on the left side has is really benefitting us," Miles said. "I think he'll stay there."
Dworaczyk started his LSU career as Ciron Black's backup at left tackle. Dworaczyk was versatile enough to come in as an extra tight end in short-yardage packages as a redshirt freshman. As a sophomore, he became the Tigers' starter at left guard, starting 26 consecutive games there before a knee injury suffered in August 2011 sidelined him for what would have been his senior season.
Senior Will Blackwell started at left guard last season as Dworaczyk took a medical redshirt, but Tigers coaches also moved highly-touted true freshman Collins there. With Dworaczyk still recovering from knee surgery during the spring -- "I still couldn't do the things I was used to doing," he admitted -- Collins became the starter. Meanwhle, Dworaczyk spent 2011 coaching the linemen on the sidelines, helping out after offensive line coach Greg Studrawa became offensive coordinator and was moved to the press box during games. This year, Dworaczyk was asked to be a "super sub" capable of filling in at any position on the line.
His versatility came in handy after the Tigers suffered their first major injury of the season.
"We just let La'el stay [at guard] because, one, he's really improved, but also two, Dworaczyk can move in to either of those left-side spots," Miles said.
Dworaczyk said the competition he went through with Collins gives him an advantage playing next to him.
"We had such great camaraderie from battling for that position in the spring," Dworaczyk said. "We worked with each other all the time, getting each other better. Now, being next to him, I definitely felt it on the game and I'm sure La'el did, too, where we felt comfortable with each other because we had such great communication throughout camp.
"Now, playing next to each other in a game, we help each other out a lot."
Collins is reluctant to even call the relationship built with Dworaczyk during the spring a "competition."
"A lot of times, between me and him, it wasn't really a competitive thing," he said. "It was just something that helped me as a player and helped him as a player."
Collins described it as a mentor-pupil relationship that naturally translated to playing side by side.
"He's always communicating," he said. "We have that communication."
Many thought Collins, the No. 8 player in the 2011 ESPN 150 coming out of Baton Rouge's Redemptorist High School, would be a natural tackle in college. Collins said he is still confident he can play tackle, but likes guard.
"Playing inside, you've got the big guys in front of you and you get to play physical," he said. Later, he added that he loves what pulling guards get to do in front of ball carriers in the LSU's power run game.
"At guard here, we do it a lot and I like that. It's something I love to do," he said.
LSU seems to love it, too.
Against Washington, LSU kept running to the left side. That, more than anything, showed that the Tigers have confidence in the new left side combination.