LSU’s Montgomery, Mingo among best DE tandems in nation
While one LSU starting defensive end was gaining weight in the offseason, the other one was losing weight.
It’s symbolic of how right end Sam Montgomery and left end Barkevious Mingo balance one another and give the Tigers one of the best tandems of ends in the country.
“I think we both rely on each other’s strength to make a whole,” Montgomery said after practice Thursday. “We can both get up the field and we can both play the run. I lean to the power side and Mingo leans to the speed side. We have good balance.”
Montgomery said he has added about 30 pounds since the end of last season without losing any of his speed. Mingo, one of the fastest ends in the country, reported about 12 pounds lighter than he was when last season began.
After weighing 240 pounds “on a good day” last season, Montgomery decided he needed to be bigger for the rigors of a Southeastern Conference schedule and a season that could last for 14 games, as last year’s did.
“I looked at the playing weight I was at and I looked at the other defensive ends around the country and I noticed they were heavier,” Montgomery said. “I realized I needed to add some weight to compete in their weight class and I had to keep my speed up.
“I know the SEC is one of those big-boy leagues. I know later on in the season you’re going to have less injury if you have more meat on your bones. You have be ready for like Week 5 or 6 when the tougher opponents start on the schedules. That’s when most teams start to break down. You’ve got to have your main guys survive the whole season.”
Montgomery said the key to his strategic weight gain was to “eat right and eat at the right times.” He said that meant, in addition to eating a high-carb diet that featured a lot of boiled chicken, noodles and vegetables, eating late and sleeping shortly after eating so the weight “would stick.”
Following that routine in conjunction with strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt’s “dynamic movement” helped Montgomery reach his goal and the reporting weight assigned by the coaches. He was expected to report at 260 and showed up at 263, though he’s now at 258 after a week of preseason camp.
Mingo on the other hand said his target weight was 245, but he arrived at 235. He said he’d like to eventually get back to 247, which was his weight for the season opener a year ago.
“Weight hasn’t really been an issue for me,” he said. “I really think I am (at the optimal weight). I try to combine power and speed.”
Mingo wore a green jersey, which means he’s not to participate in contact work, for the first few days of practice, because of a minor muscle strain in his left arm. He said he’s 100 percent and participating fully now.
Montgomery anchors the right end spot and Mingo starts at left end, but he’ll likely play some at right end behind Montgomery as he did last season.
“I love playing both sides,” Mingo said. “It helps me and it helps the team. When I move over there it gives another guy a blow and I can see what I can do against a different guy.”
Montgomery, who started 11 games, led the team with 9.0 sacks last season and Mingo, who primarily backed up senior Ken Adams but started the last four games, was second with 8.0. Mingo was tops in tackles for loss (15.) and Montgomery was second (13.5).
“I think with Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo as a pair, I don’t think I would trade them for any two defensive ends in the country,” defensive coordinator John Chavis said. “These are guys that are very talented. They fit our style of play and have been very productive for us.”
Mingo, who’s entering his first season as a full-time starter, said the Tigers have as many as seven ends capable of playing, but he and Montgomery will be the ones that set the tone.
“Both Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery will be as good as there is,” head coach Les Miles said. “The guys behind them will be those men that really can go to the line of scrimmage and play with speed and play like our defensive ends.”
Chavis said the Tigers will “never sacrifice speed for size”, which made it imperative that Montgomery’s added bulk not come at the expense of his speed.
“Sam has gained 20 to 30 pounds and hasn’t lost a step,” he said. “That’s a credit to Tommy Moffitt and what they have done in the offseason. We don’t want him to put on that weight just to be bigger and stronger. He was already very strong for his size. The extra weight will be good from that standpoint. The one thing we have to make sure is from an endurance standpoint.”
Montgomery said the size and speed don’t mean a whole lot if another characteristic is missing from a player’s makeup.
“It really doesn’t matter about my size or weight because I played at a lighter weight and I played like I was 250 or 260,” he said. “The SEC is not about speed or size. I don’t think the SEC is built on speed or size. It’s built for people with great heart and courage. Those are the players that stand out. It’s not about speed or bulk, it’s about the guys willing to sacrifice in the offseason to be able make plays in the season.”