There were already serious questions about the state of the defensive line for the LSU Tigers heading into the 2014 season after losing Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson this offseason. Those questions may blossom into full-blown concern with the news that defensive tackle Quentin Thomas, expected to be a starter this season, will be lost for the year following a torn biceps. How will the Tigers recover from this latest loss to their defensive front?
Thomas played as a backup to Ferguson in 2013, recording just nine tackles in 11 games, and even started the Outback Bowl when Ferguson did not make the trip. He was slated to see substantial playing time in 2014 as his role was increased substantially as one of the few experienced options in the trenches. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound redshirt junior had been patient and finally appeared to be getting a shot at the spotlight.
Now, LSU will have to turn a young group of defensive linemen loose earlier than they would probably like. Sophomore Chris LaCouture will slide into one of the starting positions after recording 11 tackles as a freshman in 2013. The other spot will be a hotly contested race this fall between redshirt freshmen Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron, and Maquedius Bain. While there’s no denying the talent of the young trio, their inexperience could become a liability in a rough 2014 slate of games.
Les Miles has built his success at LSU on a tough defensive front that can man-handle opponents at the point of attack. Will the Tigers be able to lose one of their few known commodities from a d-line that was already facing transition this fall and still find success in the SEC West?