BATON ROUGE, La. — A typical football season starts with a healthy August training camp before the injuries pile up when the calendar gets deeper into November. The opposite has been true at LSU this season.
Despite a shaky camp, the Tigers are as healthy as they’ve been all year as they head down the homestretch. In fact, with safety Ed Paris and left tackle KJ Malone the only starters currently out with injuries, coach Ed Orgeron thinks this is the healthiest he’s ever seen a football team this time of year.
“I credit [trainer] Jack Marucci and our doctors. Those guys do a tremendous job,” Orgeron said. “We have 5-6 doctors in the training room every day and we get these guys back a lot faster than any team I’ve been around.”
Marucci is in his 22nd season as LSU’s head athletic trainer.
“The players like being around Jack. He’s a wonderful guy,” Orgeron said. “So, it helps. He understands the pulse of the team.”
It’s not as if Marucci and his staff haven’t had plenty of Tigers to mend this year.
The biggest stars on either side of the ball have both had to rebound from injury. Running back Derrius Guice sprained a knee against Mississippi State in Week 3 but has returned to his old form the last two weeks. Edge rusher Arden Key missed the first two games of the season as he recovered from late-spring shoulder surgery.
The situation was even more tenuous for the Tigers before the season got underway. The offensive line was so battered and bruised during training camp that LSU had to shuffle in walk-ons with the first team.
“When we were in camp, I didn’t even know if we were going to have an offensive line,” Orgeron said. “We were really worried, to be honest with you. But besides KJ being questionable, this is the healthiest we’ve been.”
The Tigers have been without incumbent offensive line starters Malone, Toby Weathersby and Will Clapp at different times this year.
Orgeron credits offensive line coach Jeff Grimes for getting freshmen Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram ready to start. He also credits strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt for getting them to SEC strength.
“I didn’t know we were going to last this long into the season, especially given the physical games,” Orgeron said. “Give credit to Tommy Moffitt and to Jack. Our guys are bigger, stronger and more physical.”