Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Miles is happy with new-look defensive line
By Edward Aschoff
There's no question that this year's NFL draft really hit LSU's defense hard -- especially up front.
Gone is projected first-round draft pick Barkevious Mingo at defensive end, along with very productive leader Sam Montgomery. The Tigers also said good-bye to their plug in the middle, Bennie Logan.
That trio combined for 27 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries in 2012. It's a lot production to replace, but coach Les Miles said during Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference that he was pleased with the way his new defensive line looked this spring.
And it's not hard to believe him when you think about the talent and the numbers he and his staff have to work with.
The Tigers welcomed true freshman Christian LeCouture this spring and watched him play his way into the two-deep at defensive tackle. Miles also said he was pleased with the play of veteran tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson.
People know about the skill these two possess, especially Johnson, but it's all about being more consistent for these two. Miles seemed pleased with that this spring, and he's also hoping junior Jordan Allen finally comes into his own at defensive end after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year.
He was also very happy with the improvements made by rising junior Jermauria Rasco, who played in 13 games last season and recorded 10 tackles (two for loss). He'll have the responsibility of replacing one of LSU's talented ends, but Miles feels very confident in his ability to get the job done.
"Jermauria Rasco, in my opinion, is going to be a guy that can step right in there and play just as well as any of the guys we'll lose to the NFL draft," Miles said.
That's a lot to ask of someone who has had to wait in the wings for a while, but Miles and his coaches have no choice but to push players like him.
Sophomore Danielle Hunter is also expected to make a strong impact this fall, too, after he played in 12 games as a true freshman. Miles said Hunter, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 235 pounds, "has all of the ability that we would be comfortable with at the defensive end spot."
And once fall rolls around, the Tigers will have even more bodies to work with up front. LSU signed seven defensive linemen in its 2013 class, meaning six more, including ESPN 150 members Tashawn Bower (DE), Maquedius Bain (DT) and Greg Gilmore (DT).
"We're going to have a number of guys who will come in behind them as true freshman," Miles said.