LSU defenders bitten by injury bug

Kyle Riviere
Starting defensive lineman Christian LaCouture will miss the entire 2016 season with a torn ACL. Photo by

Over the past decade, it’s been good to be an LSU defensive player. That wasn’t the case last week.

Fall camp became a war of attrition as three Tiger defenders went down with significant injuries. Two of those players have had their seasons end before they ever began.

The first dose of horrible news LSU received was on Tuesday as it was confirmed that both Christian LaCouture and Isaiah Washington both sustained season-ending knee injuries.

LaCouture went to Twitter, stating: “I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support during this time. I really appreciate it. I tore my ACL during practice.”

LaCouture’s loss will be felt the greatest. He was all set to become a three-year starter. The senior accumulated 75 tackles and 3.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

Under new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the Tigers are transitioning this year to a 3-4 defense. In this new scheme, LaCouture was expected to be one of LSU’s starting defensive ends.

With him out for the year, Aranda will be forced to do some shuffling to his defensive line. Luckily for him, the Tigers feature one of the deepest defensive fronts they’ve had in years. He’ll have some options.

The most likely scenario will be moving junior Davon Godchaux from the nose to LaCouture’s end spot. Godchaux has started the last two seasons at defensive tackle, alongside LaCouture.

The other three players that could play LaCouture’s end position or give relief to Godchaux will be Frank Herron, Tashawn Bower—the starting defensive end from last year—or Rashard Lawrence, the ultra-talented true freshman.

If Godchaux does in fact take over for LaCouture, that will leave an opening at nose tackle. Once again, Aranda will have some options in replacing him.

He could go with Lawrence or fellow freshman Ed Alexander, redshirt junior Greg Gilmore or he could go with Travonte Valentine.

Valentine spent last year in junior college after leaving LSU due to academic deficiencies. Before rejoining the Tigers, the 340-pound monster was listed as the top junior-college defensive tackle prospect in the nation.

Valentine has been cleared and has joined LSU at practice. He is not eligible for game action just yet. He has to complete one course—which concludes on Aug. 20. As long as he completes the course, he will be ready to go for the Sept. 3 opener against Wisconsin.

Along with LaCouture, Washington also had his season ended with a torn ACL. Washington was set to be an outside linebacker in Aranda’s system.

Though he was not projected to start, he was expected to be scintillating sophomore Arden Key’s backup. He was to add depth to the one thin area of the Tiger defense: the linebacking corps.

If those two injuries weren’t enough, the very next day, it was confirmed that senior Corey Thompson sustained a broken fibula at practice. He’ll likely miss six to eight weeks.

It’s a very similar injury to the one sustained by Jalen Mills last season. Mills broke his right around the same time and didn’t end up making his return until the Oct. 17 game against Florida.

With LSU being so thin at linebacker, Thompson had made the transition from safety to LB in the offseason.

He bulked up to 222 pounds and had been performing so well that Aranda was strongly considering him to be the starter as the Tigers’ F-linebacker. This is similar to a strong-side backer in a 4-3 scheme.

To replace Thompson, Bower is the top option. He was actually competing with Thompson for the position.

Other options include freshmen Michael Divinity and Ray Thornton.