Center Lonergan nearing return for Tigers
You can tell just how powerful Alabama running back Trent Richardson is by the fact that LSU is using a linebacker to simulate his running style on the scout team.
Freshman Trevon Randle, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, is impersonating Richardson (5-11, 224) as the No. 1-ranked Tigers prepare for their game against the No. 2 Crimson Tide on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa.
“He’s running around pretty good,” linebacker Ryan Baker said of Randle. “He’s one of those big bodies. He’s giving us a pretty good look.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne said there’s added emphasis on tacklers wrapping up ball carriers.
“All the scout team guys know, they’re not taking it personally,” Claiborne said. “If we’re hitting them, they know the reason.”
Claiborne said he knows how he’ll approach Richardson when they inevitably meet.
“Any way you can get him on the ground, you just get him on the ground,” he said. “I know where I’m going. I’m going for the legs.”
Making extra time count
Center P.J. Lonergan said he’ll be ready to play against Alabama after missing the past two games because of an ankle injury. Coach Les Miles said Lonergan could have played in the 45-10 victory against Auburn last week. Now, Lonergan said he’s taking advantage of the open date this week.
“You’re going to get the time off, but you can’t just waste it,” he said. “You want to make sure you’re doing extra. The time off is going to help you no matter what, but you can go get in the cold tub, get treatment, get therapy. That stuff really helps you out.”
Keeping streak intact
LSU and Alabama have been among the best teams in the Southeastern Conference at creating turnovers and protecting the football. The Tigers lead the SEC with a turnover margin of plus-15, having caused 18 and committed just three, none in the last five games.
The Crimson Tide is tied with South Carolina with a turnover margin of plus-6. The Gamecocks are second with an average of plus-0.86 through seven games and Alabama is third with an average of plus-0.75 through eight games.
“We’ve got to keep doing it,” wide receiver Russell Shepard said. “We’ve been doing a great job this whole year. We can’t go into this game and mess that up. We’ve got to continue that great streak that we have. That’s been kind of the unsung hero for us, that we haven’t turned the ball over. And we’ve been able to take the ball away from our opponents. We’ve got to be able to continue that.”
Dworaczyk still helping
Guard Josh Dworaczyk won’t be able to play as a senior this season because of a knee injury suffered during the preseason. Nonetheless, he has found a way to contribute.
“For a guy who got hurt and was really looking forward to having a great senior campaign, he has really contributed,” Miles said. “The great thing about a veteran offensive lineman is they know the calls, they know what to look for, they understand the adjustments that we need to make. He is a really a great hand on the sideline.”
Dworaczyk wears a headset and communicates with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who’s upstairs in the press box calling plays, and relays whatever Studrawa wants to say to offensive linemen when they come off the field. LSU is petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year for Dworaczyk in hopes that he can play next season.
Blue, Landry have knack
Two offensive players - running back Alfred Blue and wide receiver Jarvis Landry - have become staples on the Tigers special teams coverage units. Blue has been in on 14 tackles and Landry has been in on four.
“They have to be physical guys,” Miles said. “They have to have a real want to contribute in special teams. They have to have a knack. Those guys do.”
No tickets, no problem
Miles has instituted a successful plan for handling ticket requests that seems to work whether it’s a high-demand game like the upcoming one or less attractive ones. The keys to the plan are Miles’ wife, Kathy, and Ya’el Lofton, LSU’s coordinator of football operations.
“I married my wife, and I got out of the ticket business,” Miles said. “So all I say to anybody that calls me at any point in time about any game is “yeah, absolutely.” Then I say to Ya’el or to Kathy, “can you do that?” Then I don’t worry about it.”