LSU’s LaCouture adds pounds as he prepares for more playing time at DT
To prepare for his second season with the LSU football team, defensive tackle Christian LaCouture added nearly 10 pounds to his 6 foot-5 frame over the past couple of months.
After playing at 295 pounds as a true freshman in 2013, when he backed up Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson, LaCouture figured he needed more bulk to go with what he hopes is a heavier workload this season.
When Johnson and Ferguson both gave up their final year of eligibility and declared for the NFL draft after LSU’s win in the Outback Bowl, LaCouture pounced on the opportunity to earn one of two inside starting spots on the Tigers defensive line.
“It’s the next man in here,” he said, “and you have to produce.”
While spring practice isn’t even half over yet, LaCouture knows everything will sort itself out over the next 51/2 months before the Aug. 30 season opener against Wisconsin.
Although nothing is etched in stone, LaCouture has a leg up on most of the competition he’s facing in the spring, and will go against when fall practice commences in early August.
That’s because he’s already in his second spring practice with the Tigers after enrolling in school in January 2013. A solid spring earned him some playing time last fall behind Johnson and Ferguson, which he turned into 11 tackles.
While it was a modest total, LaCouture said the experience mattered more.
“It was an awesome experience. … It was something I’ve always wanted to do growing up,” he said. “It was great for me to have spring ball and prepare myself to do that with the help of (defensive line) coach Brick (Haley), (defensive coordinator John) Chavis and (head coach Les) Miles.
“Then, ‘Freak’ (Johnson) and Ego and all the guys that left for the draft, they helped build me up for where I can now help the team this year,” he said.
That could be huge when you consider the only other returning defensive tackle who saw appreciable playing time last season was junior-to-be Quentin Thomas.
Two redshirt freshmen — Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain — are also in the mix this spring pending the arrival of signees Travonte Valentine and Davon Godchaux in the fall.
Other than Thomas, none have what LaCouture has after learning on the fly as an eager 18-year-old last spring.
“You have to learn quick,” he said with a smile. “Spring ball was something that really helped me out because you have to know the pace of the game and the plays right off the bat.
“When fall ball hit, it was clicking and it was rolling. We were getting ready for that. If you want to go out there (and play early), you can’t have any mistakes and you can’t play timid, either. You have to go all out and make sure you know what you’re doing.”
At the same time, LaCouture knows he still has a lot to learn in order to nail down a starting spot and significant playing time for a program that has sent defensive tackles like Glenn Dorsey, Drake Nevis, Michael Brockers and Bennie Logan to the NFL.
“I want to focus on everything, because you can always get better at everything,” he said. “Specifically, I want to take better vertical steps and get my hand placements on my guy and have great technique.
“Like I said, in everything you do, you have to make sure you improve every day.”
The Tigers resumed spring practice Tuesday, working out in sunny and mild conditions in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.
The quarterbacks vying to replace Zach Mettenberger continued to show some shaky moments in practice, but right tackle Vadal Alexander said he has confidence in Anthony Jennings, Brandon Harris and Hayden Rettig.
“The talent at quarterback is great,” Alexander said. “I’m not worried at all. We’re getting better every day. You can see it.”
Wide receiver Avery Peterson (hamstring) sat out once again after suffering a pull in practice last week. Wide receiver Kevin Spears also pulled up in a similar fashion while running a pass route.
LSU takes Wednesday off before hitting the practice fields again Thursday in advance of a light scrimmage Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
LSU’s Spring Game is April 5.
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.