Brian Kelly has worked really hard to revamp the LSU defensive line. Both through recruiting and the transfer portal, Kelly was really looking to build up depth. One of the biggest pieces was always going to be Maason Smith but in the opener against Florida State, he went down with a season-ending injury.
While having Smith on the field would have been preferred, his injury did allow for him to have a real impact on other players. Smith essentially became a coach on the sideline, helping during games and giving out tips. Since he has such a broad knowledge of the game, LSU essentially had another coach out there.
“You would be so surprised how smart Maason is,” fellow defensive lineman Jacobian Guillory said. “Maason knows how to play the run, how to do the pass. He can go to the end, be the 3-technique, he can go to nose. Him knowing how to do all of those things, one by one, it kind of makes him an on-field coach. Because he will see something before I even see it.”
Guillory gave an example, talking about a time Smith noticed the way a guard was lined up. He was able to tell the offensive lineman was going to be pulling. Guillory was left amazed and understand that’s a special trait to have.
“Even know, he will be like ‘watch out for the guard. See how he’s like? He’s about to pull.’ You can’t teach that. He just knows that. It’s just second nature to him.”
While having Coach Smith on the sidelines was helpful, LSU is going to want him on the field making plays instead. In what should be one of the SEC’s better units, there is a belief inside the building that they can be great. Adding Smith back into the rotation plus a few other guys will take the Tigers to the next level.
“Even with the little bit we have now, we’re grinding through practice,” Guillory said. “I still think once we get back — I’m telling them boys every day ‘once y’all get back, we’re going to be the best group in the country.’ And I remind them boys every single day. That’s how I feel. That’s personally how I feel about the defensive line here.”
The next time Smith is on a field, Florida State will once again be the opponent. Both he and LSU will be hoping for a better result in what should be the start of a special season.
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