How some of the young guns fared in first real action

·4 min read

This story has been beaten like a drum at this point, but LSU’s roster situation against Kansas State was not good. Most of LSU’s main contributors were not available. LSU had to reach pretty far down the depth chart to find guys to play. This meant LSU was getting their first real look at some young guys in-game action.

Multiple players had barely played all year but found themselves getting a heavy workload in the bowl game. How much can be taken away from how they played is hard to say at this point. It was a weird, weird situation.

By the time next season rolls around, the way anyone played in this game won’t have any effect on who is in and who is out. They were probably nothing more than pre-seasons reps if you will. But in this sport, any experience is good experience, and hopefully, those reps serve these guys well as they head into 2022.

One of the few reasons this game was interesting was because it would be the first time fans got to see a lot of these guys. So now that it is over, let us take a look at how they fared.

First, a look at a young cornerback

Damarius McGhee, Freshman Cornerback

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McGhee, a part of the 2021 class, was a four-star cornerback from Florida. He was a top 200 overall recruit and top 15 at his position. Despite that, he didn’t see much time until the bowl game.

Prior to Tuesday, McGhee had played just three snaps in his career. All of them coming in the regular-season finale against Texas A&M.

Overall, the secondary did not have a good night. Not much of that blame should be placed on McGhee.

McGhee was targeted a few times but didn’t allow any big plays. He did allow a Malik Knowles touchdown from a few yards out.

McGhee added six tackles as well. Overall, not a bad night for a guy making his first-ever start. He has an opportunity to be squarely in the cornerback rotation in 2022.

Next, a young linebacker gets much-needed reps

Greg Penn III, Freshman Linebacker

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With no Damone Clark or Micah Baskerville, LSU was going to be largely dependent on a big night from Greg Penn III to get a win.

Penn, a true freshman, was a highly recruited linebacker out of Maryland. Coming out of high school, he was seen as a prototypical inside backer that can play downhill.

The bowl game was not his greatest showing. According to PFF, he was the worst-graded player on LSU’s defense. Kansas State was able to run the ball well as LSU didn’t get good linebacker play across the board.

Penn recorded just two tackles and missed a couple as well. He looked physically ready but didn’t always end up in the right spot.

He did have a good play on special teams that showed his ability to tackle quick players in space. Penn just didn’t look like he had it all put together yet.

Next, another inexperienced defensive back on display

Pig Cage, Transfer Freshman Defensive Back

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Pig Cage is not a true freshman as he transferred from Nicholls prior to the 2021 season after playing in the spring season.

Tuesday night was also not his first meaningful action. He was called upon in the Alabama game when the LSU secondary was also stretched thin.

Cage had a few moments where he jumped off the tape. He found himself in the backfield a couple of times making some big stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Cage looks like a guy who can certainly come up and play in the box, his coverage does leave things to be desired.

He may never have a full-time role at LSU, but it would not be surprising to see Cage in the defensive rotation next year with a few packages.

Finally, another freshman linebacker

Zavier Carter, Freshman Linebacker

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Zavier Carter is another blue-chip recruit that was a part of LSU’s 2021 class.

The four-star pass rusher from Atlanta, Georgia saw his first significant action on defense in the bowl game. He took a few snaps in LSU’s win against McNeese in September.

Carter is athletic and brings a lot of speed of the edge. There were a couple of times on Tuesday where he looked to bring some pressure, but could not close the deal for a sack.

As an edge rusher, Carter isn’t going to do much in the run game but he did record a tackle. He held his own the few times he had to split out in pass coverage as well.

If Carter can fine-tune some things, he looks like a guy that can contribute to LSU in the future, whether it’s in 2022 or further down the road.