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Tigers hope to utilize tight ends more

4/6/2012

BATON ROUGE -- The lack of production from tight ends in LSU's offense has created constant consternation for Tigers fans for quite some time.

Even the addition of Zach Mettenberger into a more pass-happy attack doesn't seem to have changed that reality.

Yes, it was a glorified spring scrimmage. And yes, most of his production came against the Tiger's second string secondary. But Mettenberger's 272 yard performance in last week's spring game was a passing bonanza LSU fans haven't seen since JaMarcus Russell left town.

But while Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry blew past defenders for big gains, the tight end position maintained its role as an afterthought. The LSU tight ends managed just one reception, provided by Chase Clement, for four yards.

That shouldn't surprise anyone that has followed LSU football in recent seasons. Clement, who managed seven receptions for 96 yards and one score last season, will take charge of an inexperienced group that is sure to be relied on mostly to block.

That Clement is the Tigers' top returning option says plenty, as he has shown inconsistent hands since moving over from his original defensive end spot. Between him and sophomores Travis Dickson, Tyler Edwards and Nic Jacobs, LSU's tight ends have a combined 11 career receptions.

None of this is news. LSU's tight ends have accounted for 852 total yards in the past three seasons combined -- an average of 284 yards per season. Even Deangelo Peterson, who at times could be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, never managed more than 200 yards in a season, and he finished his career with three touchdowns.

Those puny totals make Richard Dickson's 375-yard 2007 season look prolific by comparison.

In 2012, that lack of production could hurt LSU in more ways than just infield. Louisiana features loads of elite tight end talent at the high school level. There are actually two ESPN 150 watch list tight ends in DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) and Standish Dobard (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr).

At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, respectively, it's safe to say both promise to factor heavily into the college passing attack.

The Tigers' hometown also boasts another exciting talent in Brian Bridgewater (Baton Rouge, La./Episcopal), who stands at a lanky 6-foot-6, 220 pounds.

The lack of production could already be hurting the Tigers' efforts for 2012, however. Dobard pledged his commitment to Miami on April 5. It could just be coincidence, but it's interesting to note that the news came less than a week after the LSU tight ends' muted spring game performance.

Even with the other local tight end talent on hand, that news is sure to sting Tiger fans, who have become familiar with the feeling of losing top Louisiana prospect to out of state schools.

Of course, it's still early in the recruiting calendar. Plus, Smith and Bridgewater still sit undecided. But with the type of talent at stake, it will be interesting to see if the Tigers try to coax any extra production out of their tight ends this fall.