Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

LSU puts a key offensive starter on ice, and it has nothing to do with a fightWhile LSU fans were busy worrying about the fate of one offensive starter earlier today, the Tigers dropped some bad news about another one:

LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard has been suspended for "a number of games," the university announced Thursday afternoon.

The suspension is a result of Shepard breaking an NCAA rule.

The university said it will seek reinstatement for Shepard but he is expected to miss a number of games until the reinstatement can be considered by the NCAA. He can continue to practice with the team.

Shepard's eligibility had been in limbo since last month, when LSU began looking into his living arrangements with a girlfriend (who is also an employee of the athletic department) in an off-campus apartment. The concern then was that the couple's payment arrangement "may have been out of compliance with NCAA rules regulating how much money student-athletes receive and how they are supposed to spend it," but the suspension ultimately came down today not as a result of the housing probe, but as a result of Shepard talking about the probe with a teammate. Seriously.

The suspension is undefined beyond "a number of games," and if Shepard is the only Tiger missing in the Sept. 3 opener against Oregon, it won't be the end of the world — certainly not when compared to the indefinite suspension of Oregon's All-American cornerback/kick returner, Cliff Harris, who contributed significantly more to the Ducks' run to the BCS Championship Game in 2010 than Shepard did to LSU's impressive 11-2 campaign. Still, no one has ever second-guessed the immense talent that once had Shepard sitting near the top of every recruiting list in America in 2009, and even Les Miles doesn't find guys who can force defenses to account for them as threats to run, catch and potentially throw regardless of where they line up growing on trees.

Shepard isn't the Tigers' only threat, or even their best. But if quarterback Jordan Jefferson happens to join Shepard on the sideline for his alleged role in a brawl that sent four people to the hospital last week, the LSU passing game — already a lame duck the past two years — may show up in Dallas dead on arrival.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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