The “Next Man Up” Mentality is More Critical Than Ever For LSU’s Defense Heading Into Alabama

LSU head coach Brian Kelly met with the media to give some updates about his team heading into the Tigers’ huge SEC West matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Unfortunately, for LSU fans, the press conference was certainly not what Tiger fans wanted to hear when it comes to the secondary.

Kelly stated during the press conference that Zy Alexander will not be available for the Alabama game and perhaps could be missing a whole lot of time after this Saturday with a lower body injury. To add on to that, most of the LSU defensive backs that were acquired via the transfer portal will be unavailable for this Saturday as Duce Chestnut and Denver Harris are still not available for the team. Although both guys are still on the roster, they are still unavailable and have not been practicing with the team.

Because of that, there will be some newer faces that will be needed to be called upon as that position group has been thinned out. Along with veteran Sage Ryan, LSU will be looking at Javien Toviano, Ashton Stamps, and Jeremiah Hughes to lead the way. The unit will be tested going against one of the biggest play offenses in Alabama.

LSU freshman DB Javien Toviano is one of the new faces that has to step up to the challenge this Saturday against Alabama because of missing pieces in the secondary. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

Although there is not a lot of experience among the three freshmen, Kelly is confident that the newcomers can play at a high level on Saturday.

Not only will players in the secondary have to step up for LSU, but perhaps, its biggest blow came on the defensive line as Brian Kelly announced All-American defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo is likely out for the season as LSU’s #18 went through surgery during the bye week and will have to miss at least a minimum of six weeks.

Kelly certainly would love to have Wingo fully healthy, but he also stated that situations like this are part of the game of football and having quality depth behind great players is a must for having great teams.

LSU DE Bradyn Swinson (13) is one of the many defensive linemen that have made an impact for the Tigers’ defensive front this year. (Photo taken by Jace LeJeune)

Unlike the secondary, there are proven and more experienced options from this season that can make a difference in the trenches on defense. In fact, Kelly has praised multiple guys on the defensive front for their play including Jordan Jefferson, Paris Shand, Bradyn Swinson, and even Omar Speights at linebacker.

On the offensive side of the football, LSU did receive some good news on the injury front as Emery Jones will be a full-go in practice and even if offensive line coach Brad Davis had to go to somebody else up front, freshman Lance Heard has proven that he is more than capable of stepping up.

With starters being out on the defensive side of the football heading into a pivotal game for the SEC West, it is going to take a big effort from some lesser-known names to get the job done. The good news is that the LSU offense has proven to be the best offense in the country and if the defense can get just enough stops, that could be the difference.

LSU DT Jordan Jefferson (99) is one of the many Tiger defensive linemen that need to step up on the inside with Mekhi Wingo being out for at least six weeks. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf Photography)

LSU still has a lot of goals ahead of them as we reach the final stretch of the season, and it could go down to how ready the “Next Man Up” is.