There are several position groups on the field where the Tigers can feel exceedingly confident heading into the 2022 season. On defense, the line of scrimmage stands out as the major strength.
We got a taste of what the unit is capable of during LSU’s spring game, in which the pass rush looked about as impressive as it can when you’re not allowed to touch the opposing quarterback. Led by edge rushers BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye, as well as a sophomore former five-star in Maason Smith and veteran Jaquelin Roy on the interior, the group could be dominant this season.
And the depth goes well beyond that with players like Saivion Jones, Mekhi Wingo and Zavier Carter providing more promise to the rotation. Given all these factors, it’s unsurprising On3’s Jesse Simonton ranked the Tigers’ defensive line/EDGE group as the SEC’s second best behind only Alabama, which features arguably the best player in the country in edge rusher Will Anderson.
The Tigers have one of the deepest DL rooms in the nation, with a slew of former Top 100 recruits primed for big 2022 seasons. LSU utilized a four-man front last season, but it’s switching to a more hybrid three-linemen look under new DC Matt House. Gaye will provide pressure off one edge, with potential 2023 1st Round pick B.J. Ojulari firing off the other side as a BUCK/JACK rusher. Meanwhile, Roy and former 5-star Maason Smith bring serious interior juice. LSU recorded a solid 38 sacks and 98 tackles for loss in 2021 — two numbers likely to improve with the further development of Ojulari, Roy, Smith and Soni Fonua. LSU also added defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo out of the transfer portal, snagging the 2021 Freshman All-American from Missouri.
After the defense lagged behind in the two seasons coming off the national title in 2019, expectations are high for House to turn things around. With a line like this anchoring the unit, it could be set to take a major step forward.
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