With new starters, LSU’s revamped front proves it’s up to the challenge
Danielle Hunter is prone to measuring his words, carefully selecting each syllable he speaks.
On Monday, though, the sophomore defensive end’s grin and slight chuckle betrayed any effort to undersell his feelings on a disruptive outing against TCU on Saturday.
No one could really fault him for it. After all, he notched four tackles, including 11/2 for loss, a sack shared with fellow end Jermauria Rasco and a forced fumble that Quentin Thomas couldn’t quite pounce on.
“I did all right,” said Hunter, a soft-spoken special-teams stalwart who saw his first significant action at left end last week. “There’s always room for improvement.”
At AT&T Stadium, the rebuilt defensive line produced 19 tackles (four for loss), a sack and three quarterback hurries. In short, the kind of havoc LSU is accustomed to creating under defensive coordinator John Chavis and line coach Brick Haley.
That defense looked awfully physical to me, very fast to the ball,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “Looks like that defensive front will be very much what we’re used to at LSU.”
That should be feasible against UAB at 6 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium. Last season, the Blazers ranked No. 120 nationally in saks allowed (42) and 104th in tackles for loss allowed (86) as they broke in four new starters up front.
Miles reiterated the same message he has since preseason camp: He likes the composition of defense and the players comprising its ranks, singling out Allen and Rasco as examples of talented prospects that bided their time but are ready to contribute.
Whether this weekend sorted out the splitting of reps between Allen and Hunter isn’t clear — an “or” still resides between their names on the depth chart.
So, did Hunter think his weekend is a prime argument for the job?
“Certainly,” Hunter said.
As for Allen, he still takes the long view of the matter.
“Coach Chavis and coach Brick are going to put in who’s good for the situation. If they call out Danielle, I’m going to just cheer just as hard for him.”
Jones, Dickson back
Senior linebacker Tahj Jones, who did not travel with LSU, and junior tight end Travis Dickson should both be back in the lineup after sitting out against TCU with undisclosed injuries, Miles said.
“Both guys would appear ready to play this game,” Miles said. “We’re looking forward to their return.”
The Tigers moved up three spots in the AP poll on Tuesday to No. 9, while the coaches bumped the Tigers two spots to No. 11 in the USA Today poll.
Occupying the nation’s top 10, though, isn’t exactly a new development around Baton Rouge, Miles said.
“A lot of our guys understand that it’s really just taking care of business,” Miles said. “We play the style of schedule where if we handle it one game at a time and focus on improving and winning, we can put ourselves where we want to be.”
Hill’s status unclear
A week ago, the possibility of sophomore running back Jeremy Hill seeing action against TCU dominated story lines heading into the game.
Ahead of facing UAB, though, the possibile return of Hill, the Tigers’ leading returning rusher, was handled matter-of-factly.
“I will tell you that as he figures in or not really is kind of how the week unfolds,” Miles said. “We look forward to playing him just as soon as he’s ready.”
On Saturday, Hill dressed out and took part in pregame warmups, but the Redemptorist graduate didn’t play.
Asked laster to clarify whether Hill’s disciplinary period, stemming from an offseason assault of fellow student at an off-campus bar and a guilty plea in July, Miles said the coaching staff retains final say on when it will end.
“We’ll put him on the field, I guess I should say, when we’re ready,” Miles said. “He’s coming. His time is in front of us.”
Who will it be: Alabama or LSU?
That’s the choice to be revealed today by West Monroe left tackle Cameron Robinson, who is rated as the top prospect at his position and No. 3 overall by Rivals.com. Robinson, who is 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, will announce his commitment at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU. Originally, Robinson planned to make his choice last Friday, but moved it for the sake of TV.
Recruiting services have reported Robinson is leaning toward committing to the Crimson Tide.