SEC: Joseph Barksdale

Position superlatives: LSU

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
9:00
AM ET
Today, we take a look at what should be the strongest and weakest positions for LSU entering the 2010 season:

Strongest position: Secondary

Key returnees: Patrick Peterson, Jai Eugene, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Taylor, Ron Brooks

Key departures: Chad Jones, Chris Hawkins

The skinny: Jones was a playmaker for the Tigers at safety, but defensive coordinator John Chavis thinks they will be even faster in the secondary next season. Essentially, they will be playing four cornerbacks back there when you consider that Eugene is moving from cornerback to safety. Peterson is the best cornerback in the country and a future star in the NFL. He’s good enough to take away one whole side of the field. The Tigers’ defensive coaches think Claiborne will be their next great cornerback. He’s had a terrific spring and will step in at the other cornerback position opposite Peterson. Taylor’s a returning starter at the other safety position, and Ron Brooks gives them quality depth as the third cornerback. If redshirt freshman Craig Loston keeps coming, this has a chance to be one of the best defensive backfields in the league.

Weakest position: Offensive line

Key returnees: Joseph Barksdale, Alex Hurst, Josh Dworaczyk, Will Blackwell

Key departures: Ciron Black

The skinny: It was a brutal season for the LSU offensive line a year ago. The Tigers were 11th in the league in rushing offense and gave up 37 sacks, which tied South Carolina for the league high and ranked 105th nationally. The Tigers have shuffled some people around up front with the hope of finding the right combination. Coach Les Miles likes the way the offensive line has responded this spring, but the real test will come in the fall. Barksdale will be moving from right tackle to left tackle for the departed Black, who had a disappointing senior season. Hurst, a sophomore, has moved from guard to right tackle. There are signs that the Tigers will be better in the offensive line in 2010, but they have to prove it on the field first.

Lunchtime links: Previewing the Gamecocks

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
12:30
PM ET
Making the rounds in the SEC:

LSU looking for 'right' combination up front

February, 22, 2010
2/22/10
5:10
PM ET
As LSU prepares to open spring practice on Friday, Les Miles is already on record as saying he wants to make this as competitive and as physical a spring as the Tigers have had on his watch.

Nowhere will that be more apparent than the offensive line.

For all the talk about the Tigers needing to improve on offense next season and get guys like Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle more involved (which is certainly important), nothing is more critical than regaining that edge in the offensive line.

Nobody needs to remind Miles, an old offensive lineman, that LSU ranked 11th in the SEC in rushing offense last season and tied for last in the league in sacks allowed with 37.

That’s a combination that will torment you in this league every time.

One thing you’re sure to see a lot of this spring is some shuffling in the offensive line.

Ciron Black is gone at left tackle, but the reality is that Black didn’t have a great senior season. Senior Joseph Barksdale could move from right tackle to left tackle, while junior Josh Dworaczyk may shift from left guard to right tackle.

Miles really likes the potential of Alex Hurst, who played some last season as a redshirt freshman. Hurst may be the answer at right guard, where he played behind the departed Lyle Hitt a year ago.

Junior T-Bob Hebert returns at center, although sophomore backup P.J. Lonergan is also back. Lonergan may get a shot at guard. This is also a big spring for guys like junior Will Blackwell and redshirt freshmen Chris Faulk and Josh Williford as the Tigers try to find the “right” combination up front.

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