LSU Tigers: Josh Dworaczyk

LSU Spring: Three things to watch

April, 5, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- After taking this week off for spring break, LSU resumes spring practice next week. Here are three things to watch for as the Tigers head for the last two weeks of spring drills, capped by the April 20 Spring Game:

[+] EnlargeLa'el Collins
Patrick Green/Icon SMIHow La'el Collins handles the transition from left guard to left tackle could determine how effective LSU's passing game is.
1. The progression of La'el Collins: As much as people talk about how Cam Cameron will influence Zach Mettenberger's quarterback play and how much LSU might throw the ball, the move of Collins from left guard to left tackle to replace the graduated Josh Dworaczyk becomes that much more critical.

We all know about left tackles and their valuable because they protect the right-handed quarterback's blind side from the modern-day Lawrence Taylors. We've all seen "The Blind Side."

Collins came out of high school, where he was one of the nation's most decorated offensive tackle prospects, as a guy who was projected as one of those blind-side protectors. But his niche last year in his first season as a starter at LSU was as a guard who used the same nimble feet that made many project him as a dominant pass blocker to become a dominant pull and reach blocker in the Tigers' running game.

Now, he's out on the edge. If he's what he's been sold to be, Mettenberger should have time to find open receivers, given that he's more experienced and his wideouts and both older and more talented than last season. If the Collins move has issues, then that can be a problem for the Tigers' passing game.

Youth movement?: LSU's eight early enrollees have had a chance to get their feet wet.

In the next two weeks, it'll be interesting to see if junior college transfers Logan Stokes (tight end) and Fehoko Fanaika (offensive guard) make a move towards the starting lineup as they get more comfortable.

Similarly some young linemen, particularly offensive tackle Ethan Pocic and defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, have looked good at times. As they begin to better grasp the concepts they are learning this spring, will they be ready to translate that to a big spring game and prominent roles come August?

Air Les (meaning, Air More)?: LSU has thrown its share of passes in the two spring scrimmages so far.

Will that trend continue to the spring game? Or will the Cameron influence be overwhelmed by the Les Miles identity of a power running game that tries to make defenses submit through force of will (and force of muscle)?

The spring game will give us our verdict. A lot of Tigers fans won't be happy unless Mettenberger throws it 30-plus times, as he's been doing in early spring scrimmages.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's only going to look like an all-comer's combine.

LSU's Pro Day on Wednesday will feature a whopping 28 participants, the result of a year where the Tigers sent 13 players to the NFL combine. Among the players will will participate is former LSU player Tyrann Mathieu.

Of the 28, 21 were members of LSU's 2012 team, while seven more participants were members of past LSU teams and are trying to catch the interest of teams as free agents.

Fans can watch the event live on ESPN3 at 1 p.m. ET.

Here are the players who are participating, according to LSU:

2012 team members: DE Chauncey Aghayere, K Drew Alleman, TE Chase Clement, DT Josh Downs, OT Josh Dworaczyk, DE Lavar Edwards, OT Chris Faulk, RB Michael Ford, DT Bennie Logan, C P.J. Lonergan, DB-KR Tyrann Mathieu, DE Barkevious Mingo, LB Kevin Minter, DE Sam Montgomery, S Eric Reid, WR Russell Shepard, CB Tharold Simon, RB Spencer Ware, P Brad Wing, DT Cleveland Davis, TE Tyler Edwards

Past Players (last year at LSU): OG Will Blackwell (2011), LB-DB Karnell Hatcher (2011), OL T-Bob Hebert (2011), QB Jordan Jefferson (2011), QB Jarrett Lee (2011), DS Alex Russian (2011), RB Charles Scott (2009).

Spring preview: Positions of need

March, 6, 2013
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As LSU prepares to begin spring practice March 14, GeauxTigerNation will take daily looks at aspects of the spring camp. This is the third in the series:

BATON ROUGE, La. -- If you watched the NFL combine, you saw former LSU defensive linemen and defensive backs lining up to take their turns in drills.

So you want to know the areas of need as we head to the spring?

The combine gave you most of the answers.

Defensive end

Players lost: Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Lavar Edwards, Chauncey Aghayere

Experience returning: Jermauria Rasco

Other candidates: Danielle Hunter, Jordan Allen, Justin Maclin.

Outlook: LSU won't have all of its candidates until August, when a trio of true freshmen arrive. But it'll be interesting to see who emerges out of the four veterans. Rasco worked his way into the top four last season and Hunter was a nice special teams player. Allen is coming off a knee injury. Any strong play from these four would be great news in the spring.

Defensive tackle

Players lost: Bennie Logan, Josh Downs

Experience returning: Anthony Johnson, Ego Ferguson

Others: Quentin Thomas, Mickey Johnson, Christian LaCouture.

Outlook: LSU is a little more solid here than at end because Johnson and Ferguson have seen plenty of snaps. Ferguson needs to step his game up though. There's a lot of talk that Thomas is a guy who might step up and earn significant playing time, possibly even challenging Ferguson for a starting spot. True freshman Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore will arrive in August. Another freshman, LaCouture, is already on campus.

Lamin Barrow
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireLamin Barrow is one of several options that LSU has to replace Kevin Minter at middle linebacker.

Middle linebacker

Player lost: Kevin Minter

Experience returning: Lots of players, but are there any natural MLBs?

Outlook: This position is more a matter of finding the right guy than finding a guy. Does LSU move weak linebacker Lamin Barrow there? Does D.J. Welter, who was second team in the Chick-fil-A bowl after missing the season for academic reasons, get a shot? How about young Ronnie Feist? There are no shortage of candidates. It's just a matter of finding the right fit.

Left tackle

Player lost: Chris Faulk, Josh Dworaczyk

Experience returning: La'el Collins (could be moved from left guard), Vadal Alexander (could be moved from right tackle).

Others: Jerald Hawkins, Evan Washington, Jonah Austin, Ethan Pocic.

Outlook: Like middle linebacker, there are candidates here, but which one is the best fit? Collins was a highly-regarded prospect coming out of high school, but he got comfortable at left guard as a sophomore and there could be a reluctance to move him. Hawkins is a talented redshirt freshman, but do you really want a redshirt freshman blocking quarterback Zach Mettenberger's blind side? Alexander, last year's starter at right tackle, could be an option as well, but that would leave the Tigers having to find a new starter for two positions.


History says LSU will have pros, busts 

January, 29, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- As LSU puts the finishing touches on its 2013 recruiting class, one might ask what to expect from the incoming class.

One way to judge is through history.

Looking at the last three classes to complete their eligibility -- and the first three that existed in the RecruitingNation era (starting in 2006) -- one can see some noticeable patterns.

Minus Faulk, LSU might reshuffle OL 

January, 10, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Before Chris Faulk's surprising announcement Wednesday that he'll leave LSU this spring, the starting lineup for Tigers' 2013 offensive line seemed easy enough to figure out.

The only departing starters from LSU's line would be center P.J. Lonergan -- who has an heir apparent in Elliott Porter -- and left tackle Josh Dworaczyk, who became the starter only after Faulk got hurt.

Move Porter into the lineup, bring a healthy Faulk back at left tackle, and just like that you have an experienced and talented offensive line set to go.

But now that Faulk will depart despite suffering a season-ending knee injury that cost him the season's final 12 games, the outlook is less clear.


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Where LSU will need help: Offense 

January, 4, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- There are some unknown variables when trying to figure out where true freshmen might play a big role on a team.

Avery Johnson
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2012 wide receiver Avery Johnson looks to re-enroll after going to prep school for a year. He could contribute to LSU as soon as next season.
Take LSU right tackle Vadal Alexander. The 2012 signee became a true freshman starter at right tackle halfway through the season, something nobody saw coming. But when left tackle Chris Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury, it opened the door for Alexander to move into the lineup, and he took the job and ran with it after another veteran starting tackle, Alex Hurst, left the team.

Similarly, with a veteran stable of running backs returning, few saw true freshman Jeremy Hill emerging as a primary running back for LSU this year. Yet, it took only one injury -- to original starter Alfred Blue -- to get Hill the break he needed to start getting carries and eventually become the starter and the Tigers' leading rusher.

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LSU 10: Final 

January, 2, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU finished a disappointing 10-3 and probably out of the Top 10 after a 25-24 loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. There were, however, plenty of good performances in a season that ended disappointing, but was 14 points away from being an unbeaten one. Here are the best Tigers this season:

[+] EnlargeKevin Minter
Paul Abell/USA TODAY SportsKevin Minter finished with 130 tackles in a stellar season.
1. LB Kevin Minter: The team MVP had the most tackles of any player in the Les Miles era with 130, including a team-high 15 for loss. The junior, who already has a degree, looks ready for pro ball.

2. DE Sam Montgomery: Finished with team highs in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (13). He was a disruptive force on a talented defensive line who, like Minter, appears NFL-ready at the end of his junior season.

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Tiger Tale: Josh Dworaczyk 

December, 30, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player. We'll examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.

Josh Dworaczyk, LT, Senior

Josh Dworaczyk
Steve Franz/Louisiana State University/Getty ImagesSenior Josh Dworaczyk was a two-year starter at guard for LSU before bouncing around this season and ending up at left tackle.
Accomplishments: A sixth-year senior, Dworaczyk relinquished his old job, starting left guard, to become a utility reserve after missing last season with a knee injury. Eventually, that role turned into the starting left tackle job after Chris Faulk was lost for the season after one game with a knee injury. Dworaczyk was particularly solid in the second half of the season after missing games because of lingering effects of his injury. His leadership on the offensive line was a key reason why the Tigers' offensive line thrived down the stretch despite starting two freshmen and a sophomore.

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Countdown to Signing Day: Tevin Lawson 

December, 28, 2012
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney will break down every commitment in the Tigers' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: OL-DL Tevin Lawson, Denham Springs, La., 6-foot-4, 275 pounds

Committed: March 30, 2012

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True freshmen make impact at LSU 

December, 27, 2012
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BATON ROUGE -- With a number of top prospects still considering the possibility of signing with LSU Feb. 6, they should remember one thing before they sign with the Tigers:

If you sign, you better come ready to play.

LSU brought in 21 true freshmen in the 2012 signing class, and 15 have played -- which is second in the country.

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Tiger Tale: OG La'el Collins

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player. We'll examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.

La'el Collins, Left Guard, Soph.

Accomplishments: You knew Collins was special. You knew it from the fact that he was one of the top high school offensive linemen in the Class of 2011. You knew it because when Josh Dworaczyk, the two-year starter at left guard, returned from injury, it was still Collins that was the unquestioned starter at the position as a true sophomore. But it wasn't until Dworaczyk came back from complications from his injury after the Florida game that Collins blossomed. With the sixth-year senior playing next to him at left tackle, Collins played with confidence and often mauled opponents down the stretch.

Shortcomings: Collins was a work in progress in his second season out of high school. By his own admission, he often played thinking about what he was supposed to do rather than my instinct. It was only when Dworaczyk lined up next to him that Collins started playing with confidence. By season's end, however, Dworaczyk said Collins had "graduated" past needing the on-field tutor.

Against Clemson: It's the last chance for Collins to line up next to his mentor. Collins will have a much-anticipated junior season. It'll be interesting to see, after mastering the position midway through his sophomore year, then going through the mini-camp that is bowl preparation, if Collins is ready to take yet another step in his evolution to a dominant SEC lineman.

Countdown to Signing Day: Andy Dodd 

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney will break down every commitment in the Tigers' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: OL Andy Dodd, Lindale, Ga./Pepperell, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds

Committed: July 20

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LSU 10: Week 13 

November, 26, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The regular season is over and LSU awaits its bowl fate with a 10-2 record and a 6-2, second-place finish in the SEC West. Here are the players who impressed us most.

1. LB Kevin Minter: LSU's middle linebacker finished the season with 111 tackles, and with a decent bowl game, he'll surpass Kelvin Sheppard's 116-tackle 2010 season as the most prolific of the Les Miles era. He's also active in other areas, most notably, with a team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss.

2. QB Zach Mettenberger: By the end of the season, LSU had gone from a team that was not a threat to pass to one that could air it out. Mettenberger threw for 2,489 yards, but in the last third of the season, he was throwing at close to a 3,000-yard pace.

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LSU 10: Week 12 

November, 19, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Our weekly look at LSU's 10 best performers of the season up to this point:

1. LB Kevin Minter: He had another solid day, this time against Ole Miss. Minter recorded 11 tackles, including two for loss. He has 101 tackles on the season and a team-high 13.5 for loss.

2. QB Zach Mettenberger: Add to his now quickly growing resume a late-game drive for a last-minute, winning touchdown in LSU's 41-35 win over Ole Miss. He has 2,272 passing yards and, with a decent game, will pass 2,500 yards for the season at Arkansas.

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LSU 10: Week 11 

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Our weekly look at LSU's 10 best performers of the season up to this point:

1. LB Kevin Minter: He's one good game from a triple-digit tackle season. Not only does he have a team-high 90 tackles, he gets tackles for loss (a team-high 11.5), and sacks (3) and has an interception and forced fumble.

2. DE Sam Montgomery: Montgomery got a sack at a big moment against Mississippi State and leads his team with six. He is right behind Minter in tackles for loss (11).

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