The offensive line has been the area of LSU’s team hit the hardest by preseason injuries, but it’s getting to where it needs to be for the season opener against Oregon on Saturday night.
Though starting left guard Josh Dworaczyk is facing knee surgery that will sideline him for several weeks, the line’s overall depth and experience is paying off. T-Bob Hebert, who has filled in at all three interior spots, will take Dworaczyk’s place. Will Blackwell, who missed most of last season because of a broken ankle and who was nicked up in camp, is back at right guard and P.J. Lonergan anchors the line at center.
The tackles Chris Faulk on the left side and Alex Hurst on the right have been unscathed. Depth has been affected, though, as guards Josh Williford and Matt Branch have been sidelined by foot injuries and Evan Washington by an undisclosed injury.
“If you had asked me a week or two ago I would have said we needed a little more work,” Lonergan said, “but since then I think we’ve worked together real well and we’re starting to feel it and come together and really mesh.”
Williford is expected back this week, which will help at guard where true freshman La’El Collins, who was recruited as a tackle, has been the only healthy backup.
“Our chemistry goes back a few years,” Blackwell said of the line’s core. “For the younger guys it’s tougher because we have had injuries and it’s tougher to establish that chemistry, but most of us that are going to play we’ve been together and we know how each other works. We’re just excited to all finally get back out there again and see what we can do.”
The depth was impacted further when backup center Cameron Fordham left school early in camp, but the team has been able to withstand the injuries to date relatively well.
“If one or two more of us were to get hurt I think it would be tough to deal with,” Blackwell said, “but guys who are hurt are still around and the chemistry and morale are still doing pretty well.”