Six, maybe seven defensive players out or ‘questionable’ for LSU
The top line of Ole Miss’ depth chart now resembles a listing of patients in a triage ward, with up to seven defensive players hurt as the Rebels prepare to host LSU at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“They’re all either definitely out or questionable at best,” coach Hugh Freeze said of his injured defenders. “I’m not hopeful. We’re planning on going without them, because I just don’t see them being ready.”
The Rebels (3-3, 1-3 SEC) might be without six starters, including the No. 1 recruit in the 2013 signing class, Robert Nkemdiche, when they face No. 6 LSU (6-1, 3-1) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Nkemidche pulled a hamstring against Texas A&M, while linebacker and leading tackler Serderius Bryant was knocked unconscious in the fourth quarter trying to tackle quarterback Johnny Manziel. Bryant was carted off the field on a stretcher and transported to a local hospital. Defensive tackle Issac Gross, safety Chief Brown and cornerback Mike Hilton were also injured.
Add in earlier injuries to defensive end C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson, and the Rebels are certainly depleted.
Additionally, backup quarterback Barry Brunetti, who is inserted at certain points to serve as dual-threat option, suffered a shoulder injury and is questionable.
“It’s a bigger challenge than I’ve had,” Freeze said. “So this is a new wrinkle to the challenge of getting our kids back up. We’re certainly doing everything we know to do.”
Offensive lineman Ethan Houston, a Destrehan High graduate, has moved over to add depth. Defensive tackle Byron Bennett slid over to work at end, a position where Cameron Whigam, Channing Ward, D.T. Shackleford and John Youngblood are other options.
Joe Alleva addresses concerns
After an actual attendance of roughly 78,000 for LSU’s victory over Florida, Athletic Director Joe Alleva wrote a letter addressing traffic, parking and entering Tiger Stadium.
Regarding the snarled traffic, Alleva wrote that a consulting group will return to Baton Rouge in November to “review our operations” ahead of the Tigers’ game against Texas A&M. In the meantime, he suggested fans carpool or leave earlier for the game.
“That can greatly reduce the number of vehicles on campus,” Alleva wrote.
Meanwhile, construction projects have resulted in about 2,000 lost parking spaces since 2012. A new 450-space lot near the LSU golf course opened last weekend, but Alleva wrote the department is “exploring new opportunities” to “promote efficient use of our current spaces.”
Finally, Alleva said ongoing construction for the South End addition to the Stadium eliminated entrances, and a large number of fans on the west side of the stadium are entering on the Southwest side and causing delays. Alleva wrote that Gates 4, 5 and 6 on the northwest corner are also options.
Jordan Allen set, Tahj Jones up in the air
LSU defensive end Jordan Allen (ankle) will be available Saturday, while linebacker Tahj Jones (hamstring) practiced but his status is unclear.
The Tigers, who have not had a bye week, are “pretty healthy,” LSU coach Les Miles said.
Any time you play game after game over time, it has an effect on you,” Miles said.”We’re not just fresh as daisies.”
Advocate on the road
Copies of The Advocate can be picked up at select hotels Saturday for fans traveling to Ole Miss. The locations are the Marriott Hotel, 2625 Thousand Oaks Blvd., in Memphis, Tenn.; Whispering Woods Hotel, 7300 Hacks Cross Road, in Olive Branch, Miss.; the Gold Strike Hotel and Casino, 1010 Casino Center Drive, in Robinsonville, Miss.