BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis is trying to figure out fast which of more than a half-dozen true freshman will be able to handle crunch-time responsibilities when the Tigers enter the heart of their Southeastern Conference slate.
So far, eight true freshmen have seen playing time on the Tigers' defense, and at least that number could play again this Saturday night when No. 8 LSU (2-0) hosts five-touchdown underdog Kent State (1-1).
"We're counting on these guys for depth. Some of them are fighting to be starters," Chavis said. "You've got to see them play under fire. You've got to see who's going to let you expand what you're doing defensively and handle all concepts, mentally as well as physically."
While teams often allow a trickle of true freshmen onto the field in early season games, this is a little different for LSU, which has only three full-time starters returning from its 2012 defense after seven members of that unit were taken in the NFL draft last spring.
"Sometimes you're in a situation when you reload, you have to reload with young guys," Chavis said. "That's where we are and we'll continue this man hunt until we get the best 11 out there."
In LSU's opener against 24th-ranked TCU in Dallas, Kendell Beckwith saw snaps both as a linebacker and a pass-rushing defensive end. Christian LaCouture played at defensive tackle in the Tigers' 4-3 front.
Six more saw action in Week 2 against UAB: Defensive backs Tre'Davious White, Rashard Robinson and Rickey Jefferson; ends Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal; and linebacker Duke Riley.
White took the field as the first-team cornerback in the second quarter in place of Jalen Collins and remained in that role after halftime.
Chavis said White's maturity is one of his greatest assets in this point in his career.
"All of them have talent. One thing White has is an air of confidence," Chavis said. "To play that position, you have to be very confident and tough-minded. You have to be able to forget plays in a hurry because you're not going to be able to win every battle. ... With his demeanor, he's much, much more mature than most freshmen when they arrive on campus."
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