It may not seem like it, but LSU has position battles outside of quarterback.
LSU's biggest offseason storyline has centered around the successor to gunslinger Zach Mettenberger. Freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings have been vying for that title. So far, Harris and Jennings have split time with the first unit.
LSU's depth chart is far from being set in stone. Head coach Les Miles has always been patient when making decisions on positions in question before the season opener.
Nevertheless, there have been changes on the depth chart in fall camp.
LSU defensive tackle Quentin Thomas suffered an injury last week at practice. Ross Dellenger of The Advocate reported that Thomas had suffered a torn biceps and would be out for the season.
At LSU's media day, Miles indicated he has not ruled out Thomas' return and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette said Thomas could be back for the opener against Wisconsin, even though it seems unlikely.
Thomas was projected to be the starter alongside Christian LaCouture. The duo served as backups to Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson last season and return as the only players at the position who saw meaningful playing time.
Luckily for Miles, he has plenty of reinforcements.
Miles announced that redshirt freshman Frank Herron is now slated to be the starter alongside LaCouture. But defensive line coach Brick Haley and defensive coordinator John Chavis said the vacancy is still up for grabs:
While Les Miles named Frank Herron the starter, Brick Haley and Chavis suggest the position of D-tackle is still open. #LSU— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) August 10, 2014
The backup duo of Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain form a physically imposing threat for offenses. Gilmore and Bain, both redshirt freshmen, will be playmakers despite their lack of experience.
No matter who actually starts, expect Chavis and Haley to rotate frequently up front. The gap in talent between LaCouture, Herron, Bain and Gilmore is not that wide. Expect all four to see at least 10 snaps against Wisconsin.
LSU safety Jalen Mills was arrested for second-degree battery in July, but the charge was reduced to misdemeanor simple battery, per The Shreveport Times. The decision came just in time for Mills to make the opening practice on August 3rd.
Mills will play for the Tigers in 2014, but he might have to wait until after the season opener. There is a chance Miles will suspend Mills, a projected starter, for the first game, much like he did with running back Jeremy Hill last season.
Is Jalen Mills LSU's best safety?
Luckily enough for the Tigers, they have talent to back up Mills.
LSU has three returnees with starting experience at safety in Ronald Martin, Corey Thompson and Rickey Jefferson. Martin and Jefferson are the likely starters, with Thompson as a formidable backup. The Tigers also have talented true freshmen coming into the fold in Jamal Adams and John Battle.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis is not ready to make any decisions yet.
"Right now, we have five or six guys that are battling for those two positions," Chavis said, per Geaux247. "There’s competition all over the field. Ronald Martin has played a lot of football for us around here, and we've got several guys who have done that. It’s a battle that will continue up until game week."
LSU lost one of its best kick and punt returners ever in Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason. New special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto has been working out a wide variety of options, including some freshmen.
"Right now they have me back there in the competition for kick returner and punt returner,” said freshman receiver D.J. Chark, per Geaux247. "But nobody knows who is going to be the guy yet...We have great players like Jamal Adams and Travin Dural, and obviously Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee. We are just seeing who the coaches feel will put us in the best position."
An ideal situation for the Tigers would be Chark or Adams winning the job. Dural, Fournette and Magee are valuable assets to the offense LSU cannot afford to get injured.