Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU might have to play its second game in two weeks without preseason All-SEC defensive end Rashard Lawrence.

Bayou Bengal Briefing: What are LSU’s DE options without Rashard Lawrence?

Nick Suss

LSU football is in the news every day, and the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to keep you updated with the latest headlines five mornings a week. Join us every Monday through Friday for the biggest news on Tigers football, recruiting, baseball and more. Enjoy!

Defensive end dilemma

LSU football coach Ed Orgeron said Wednesday that sophomore defensive end Rashard Lawrence will likely miss the Tigers’ SEC opener versus Mississippi State on Saturday. This will be LSU’s second straight game without Lawrence, formerly the top recruit in Louisiana and a preseason All-SEC honoree.

Without Lawrence in the fold, LSU has a handful of options to start as its third down lineman alongside seniors Christian LaCouture and Greg Gilmore. Here they are, from likeliest to least likely:

  1. Glen Logan and Neil Farrell impressed in Lawrence’s absence against Chattanooga, combining to make 7 tackles. Those two will likely rotate to fill Lawrence’s role.
  2. Orgeron hasn’t made a ruling about the status of senior Frank Herron, who has missed the Tigers’ first two games because of a suspension. If Herron is eligible, he’ll vault up the depth chart because of his experience and status as a skilled run stopper.
  3. This won’t be for the whole game, but don’t be surprised to see recently cleared outside linebacker Arden Key put his hand in the dirt a few times Saturday. Key excelled as a defensive end his freshman season and thrived with his hand in the dirt as a pass rush specialist in 2016. He’ll get some reps in Lawrence’s stead, especially in third-and-long scenarios.

What’s my line?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to talk about money lines for LSU-Mississippi State.

As of the time I’m writing this, LSU is listed as a 7.5-point favorite to beat Mississippi State. Dating back to last season, LSU has covered five of the last seven times it has been favored to win by more than seven points. Over that same span, Mississippi State has only broken the spread when expected to lose by more than a touchdown once, and that came against LSU.

The spread is really close. It’s hard to make a suggestion one way or the other. But one suggestion I will make is to take the under on the total. Right now, it’s set at 51.5 points. The way LSU and Mississippi State’s defenses have played this season, that total could be off by as many as 20 points.

Of course, don’t mortgage your finances against my thoughts. But it is worth noting that in two weeks of predictions, my LSU picks have been off by a total of 9 points. That’s pretty close.

Checking in with numberFire

ESPN.com partners with a cool service called numberFire every college football season to help predict games. The coolest thing numberFire does is create something called the Similar Teams Matrix, which compares a team’s performance against the most similar teams of the past according to statistics, opponents and trajectory.

According to numberFire’s Week 3 projections, the most similar team to the 2017 LSU Tigers is the 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide, a 97 percent match. As you may recall, the ’08 Tide were a team on the cusp, a team that went 12-0 in the regular season before losing two games in the postseason. That Alabama team was also, like the 2016 Tigers, a young team with a notable freshman class.

Alabama’s 2008 recruiting class included future stars Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Barrett Jones, Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower and Terrence Cody. Most of those future college and NFL stars made their presences felt as freshmen, just as LSU’s freshmen are making noticeable contributions this season.

And, as the story goes, that freshman class led the Crimson Tide to a national championship as sophomores one year later. If this is the path LSU is on, I’m sure most fans will take it.

Kicking and screaming

Orgeron said on his weekly radio show Wednesday night that LSU’s kicking competition between Connor Culp and Jack Gonsoulin hasn’t resolved itself yet. But a resolution might be coming soon.

Coach O said Thursday will be a heavy competition day between the two, and that competition will hopefully decide which kicker LSU can rely upon Saturday versus Mississippi State. Of course, all of that competition can be undone with a miss or two in a live game.

But LSU is in a situation where it needs to make a choice and hope it works out. Kicking has a reputation of being as much mental as it is physical. Prolonging this battle unnecessarily could cast more doubt in these young placekickers’ minds.

And if LSU can’t come to a decision, there’s always the option to go for it on every fourth down. Y’all know that’s my choice.

Look at my smiling face!

The Week 3 edition of Sound Off with Nick and Alex, SEC Country’s weekly LSU video breakdown, dropped Wednesday. In it, Alex Hickey and I talked about Key’s return to the starting lineup, the kicking battle, LSU’s penalty issues and much more. Give it a watch below. And remember to look for new editions of Sound Off every Wednesday.

Arbitrary Analysis, part 4

To prepare for the onslaught of cowbells heading your way during LSU-Mississippi State, the Bayou Bengal Briefing has spent the week counting down the top 5 uses of cowbell in classic rock songs.

Monday, Grand Funk Railroad earned the No. 5 spot. The Rolling Stones rolled in at No. 4 Tuesday. War was good for No. 3 Wednesday. Now, we check in with No. 2.

No. 2: Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Our last three picks in the countdown have hammered you over the head with the cowbell from the start. This one is a little subtler. And it rocks hard because of it.

I’ve extolled the virtues of this song in the Bayou Bengal Briefing in the past, so I won’t bore you with repeat details. But I will say that the driving force of the cowbell helps elevate this song into another plane. The effect could’ve been achieved with drums. But using the bell adds an echoing resonance to the track that otherwise wouldn’t have been there. And that’s awesome.

Check back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing Friday for our No. 1 pick.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, it’s “National Eat A Hoagie Day.” Of course, since we live in Louisiana, we don’t say “hoagie.” Most of us probably just say “sub.” But there are traditionalists who’ll maintain the word “po-boy” as a catchall sandwich term. All power to those folks.

Whatever you call it, eat one Thursday. Because hoagies, subs, grinders, po-boys and heros are all delicious. While you’re at it, listen to this song. It doesn’t feature any cowbell, but it does feature repeated mentions to hoagies and grinders.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.