Replacing two starting defensive tackles who left college early for the NFL is tough enough for LSU this preseason, but it reportedly just got even tougher. Defensive tackle Quentin Thomas, who was expected to be a first-teamer for a rebuilt Tigers defensive front seven, will miss the season with a torn biceps, according to theadvocate.com.
The fourth-year junior played sparingly last year behind Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson, appearing in 11 games but making just nine tackles. Johnson declared early for the draft, went unselected, but signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins. Ferguson's early-entry story had a better outcome as a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears. Both were lineup fixtures last season, leaving little room for the development of the Tigers' youth at the position.
How young will LSU be along the interior? Minus Thomas, there isn't a noteworthy senior or junior defensive tackle on the roster. Christian LaCouture showed some promise last season as a freshman, but nobody other than he and Thomas has played a down of college football. Defensive coordinator John Chavis has no choice but to develop his young defensive tackles at microwave speed. At this point, the crock-pot pace at which most freshmen assimilate is too slow.
Middle linebacker D.J. Welter will be counting on their development, as well, because a long season for them means a long season for him.