top of page

LSU 2023 OFFENSIVE LINE: CRITICAL MASS

Updated: May 9, 2023

By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN


The health and status of LSU's offensive line is a major area of concern heading into summer, with just 6 scholarship trenchmen available throughout Spring, an injured starting center and little in behind as backup, the Tigers find themselves thinner than my dad's hairline.

Losing numbers this winter when 2022 starter Anthony Bradford opted for the NFL Draft (selected by the Seahawks) while 2020 4 star Marcus Dumervil & 2019 veterans Cam Wire and Kardell Thomas transferred, LSU were still expected to start a formidable O-line in 2023.

As the best O-line coach in America, Brad Davis, returns for a 3rd straight year in Baton Rouge, you'd still expect the best from a unit featuring proven greats Emery Jones, Will Campbell, and solid performances out of Garrett Dellinger, Miles Frazier and Charles Turner.

But both health and depth could turn LSU's O-line outlook inside out:

Charles Turner

During Spring, the 6 scholarship linemen were worked into the ground; when I caught up with RT Emery Jones after practice this April, beads of sweat continued to linger...his exhaustion was clear to see.

Emery Jones

Over the coming months, Coach Davis must find out who he can rely on behind his proven starting five, specifically concerning Turner's lingering injury.

If swing man Marlon Martinez or Dellinger are required to shuffle over to center, that spot could likely be the line's defining position (even with a fully healthy Charles Turner).

Luckily for worrying Tigers fans, Coach Davis recruited a group of much-needed reinforcements, arriving in June.

Although most of these additional O-linemen are on the extremely young side, one only has to understand the level of talent we're looking at, not to mention the stunning, rapid rate of development Brad Davis can conjure from his pupils:

First off, a blistering corps of freshmen O-linemen, both Lance Heard & Tyree Adams out of local high schools Neville and St. Augustine, before Coach Davis poached a pair of top 10 Georgia rated OL, DJ Chester and Paul Mubenga to wrap up a strong 2023 class.

Lance Heard

Head Coach Brian Kelly told a story about debutant Lance Heard's innate desire to play early and often, lauding his abilities and character.

As a former teammate of Will Campbell at Neville, with full knowledge of Emery Jones' presence on the right edge, Lance Heard is still hellbent on starting....poised with the work ethic and pedigree to possibly back that up.

Talk about intangibles...

Tyree Adams battled against Louisiana's best while starting at "St. Aug", deep in the heart of New Orleans' talent-rich river parishes.

Judging by our exclusive convo with the freshman, he'll know what it takes to receive playing time.

Despite the high potential of these freshmen, Coach Brad Davis knew he needed experienced depth...luckily, the portal can always bridge the roster gap:

Adding some critical elder experience to his unit, Coach Davis brought in highly sought-after transfer OL Mason Lunsford.

Out of Maryland, starting 26 games as he enters his junior season, Lunsford brings over 1,500 collegiate snaps, a towering 6'7 frame, and plenty of versatility to a young unit searching for veteran leadership.

Now, I've received word the Tigers are doing all they can to pull in a couple more offensive linemen via the portal, with former Colorado man Jackson Anderson a name on that list.

Losing out on prized portal target Emmanuel Pregnon to USC just last week and Ben Christman to Kentucky, Coach Davis still has sights on bringing multiple experienced bodies to the table.

If LSU end up without any substantial offensive line protection through this portal cycle, 2023 could be a long season for newly minted sophomores Will Campbell and Emery Jones, each Tiger nearing 1,000 snaps after just one year.

Both will be relied upon heavily by Coach Davis, cast as his bookend tackles, holding a season of experience with QB Jayden Daniels as well as 95% of the same offensive personnel, only injury could limit Jones or Campbell's success this fall.

Also expected to go the distance for LSU in 2023, versatile iron man Garrett Dellinger, a Tiger who once played through three different injuries, missing just a few games in between a recurring meniscus problem and a debilitating hand surgery.

Garrett Dellinger

Able to deputize at tackle or center, Dellinger is an anchor of stability at left guard, holding the highest PFF pass blocking grade of any 2022 trenchman.

2022 transfer Miles Frazier found a home at guard, struggling early in the season before turning it on as a solidified starter up front.

Hurt most of Spring, Frazier was able to return for the back end of April, making a starting appearance during the Spring scrimmage.

The ever-versatile Marlon Martinez nearly left the program this past winter, he revealed during a media availability session this April.

Marlon Martinez

However, discussions with Coaches Kelly and Davis convinced him to stay on wearing purple and gold.

Heading into his 3rd season, Martinez was relegated to the bench for most if not all of a disappointing 2022. Martinez produced a solid freshman display, yet he was left frustrated as a sophomore.

Now, he's a definitive piece of the offensive line in 2023, with the potential of playing anywhere from either guard spot or center.

The health and versatility of Dellinger and Martinez afford Coach Davis some flexibility; both players are also experienced Tigers, heading into year three under two different coaching regimes.

Much like Martinez, second year Tiger Bo Bordelon has sharpened his physique, cutting a steely visage, while continuing to deputize at center or guard. To my eyes, Bo looks to be far closer to the finished article than many expected. Still, his snapping must improve if he's to be an option as a backup center.

With all of this roster detail now at our fingertips, we look at how little LSU's 5-6 man rotation were utilized throughout the Tigers' Spring Game.

While they ran the football just one play shy of passing snap totals, the runs were unimaginative, blocking schemes remained static....and if you were underwhelmed, it was all by design.

LSU's 6 starters, along with the rest of Davis' unit down to walk on Tigers like Joshua Billideaux, were gassed, needing reps...but also, an extended break.

No doubt the extra caution will pay off down the road this fall when the games come thick and brutally fast.

LSU's 2023 offensive line now enter summer break with only one key absence, at least four (most likely 5 or 6) reinforcements headed their way, and a spring where backups or walk-ons received a ton of high quality reps with the 1st and 2nd team offense.

Let's not forget:
Emery Jones and Will Campbell were among the team's best overall players last season, in any position. Also, both freshmen ranked among the top 5 best offensive linemen within the SEC, both named freshman All-Americans and named to the All-SEC Freshman squad.

Any expectations for their sophomore demise would be widely off the mark and, frankly, ludicrous. Expect these two pillars to steer the ship through its roughest waters.

While there are other key areas on the field, quarterback, defensive line, defensive back, etc, it doesn't get any more critical than LSU's 2023 offensive line.

Their long-term depth, health, and development will anchor LSU's championship push.......how far the Tigers compete into December and January will largely depend on Brad Davis' unit.


By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

163 views2 comments

2 Comments


Really talented group. One more experienced player would be perfect for depth.

Like

BayouTigerGal
BayouTigerGal
May 08, 2023

The fact players were gassed concerns me but I trust in Brad Davis. He will get them where they need to be. I am so glad Martinez decided to stay. It doesn’t matter the position. It’s all about what you put into it for the team. #GeauxTigers

Like
bottom of page