Preseason All-American Arnold fighting for LSU starting spot
By Glenn Guilbeau
Louisiana Gannett News Service
BATON ROUGE — Will Arnold has made the ESPN.com All-America preseason team and was named a first unit member of both the coaches and media All-Southeastern Conference teams.
But at the moment, he has not made the first unit of the All-LSU team. The senior from Gloster, Miss., is getting healthier and continues to practice at his familiar left guard spot, but junior Herman Johnson is still the No. 1 left guard.
LSU coach Les Miles is considering some juggling of his line to allow Arnold to play on the left side, but he has not made any moves yet.
"I don't know that we're ready to do that," Miles said after Saturday's scrimmage. "I don't know if we're ready to move anybody out yet."
Miles looked at Arnold at right guard and right tackle early in camp, but Arnold asked to return to his old left guard spot exclusively because injuries to his right knee and ankle last season were getting aggravated on that side.
Arnold, who only practiced once on the days LSU held two practices during preseason camp, played most of the scrimmage Saturday. But he usually was on the second team at left guard. The only time he played first team was when Johnson took a breather.
"If Will's a guy that it appears can sustain taking the left guard job over then maybe we'll consider a move," Miles said. "But right now, he might just give us snaps."
Arnold enjoyed his best workout since injuries ended his season after game five last year.
"Arnold was held out of the second practice Friday so he could be pointed to this go," Miles said. "And it was his longest play since last season."
Johnson, who is LSU's biggest lineman on either side of the ball at 6-foot-7 and 351 pounds, started eight games at left guard last season after Arnold's exit and played there throughout the spring. Arnold started the first five games at left guard last season before going down. He missed all of spring drills.
"I've very comfortable at left guard," Johnson said. "But I can play tackle, too. And I can play right guard. It doesn't matter that much to me."
Johnson started two games at right guard last season. Johnson was one of several offensive linemen who performed well in preseason camp, which concluded Saturday with the final scrimmage. Single practices and preparation for the Aug. 30 opener at Mississippi State begin today.
"Brett Helms, Herman Johnson, Ciron Black, those guys really had a great camp," Miles said. "I think they solidified their spot maybe as opposed to winning the job. I can tell you there's been so much gain made by our offensive line."
Two-deep O-line: Going into today's practices, the first team offensive line has sophomore returning starter Black at left tackle, Johnson at left guard, junior returning starter Helms at center, sophomore new starter Lyle Hitt at right guard and senior new starter Carnell Stewart at right tackle. The second team offensive line has true freshman Jarvis Jones at left tackle, Arnold at left guard, junior Ryan Miller at center, red-shirt freshman Matt Allen or sophomore Andrew Decker at right guard and true freshman Joseph Barksdale at right tackle.
Competition at DE: Miles called the race for the No. 1 job at right defensive end too close to call. Sophomore Rahim Alem, who signed two years ago as Al Jones, is battling with junior Tremaine Johnson for Chase Pittman's old spot. Senior Kirston Pittman also had his moments in camp.
"If I had to pick an order right now, I'd be hard pressed to do so," Miles said.
The rest of the line has Tyson Jackson at left end, Glenn Dorsey at left tackle and Charles Alexander at right tackle.
Miles' radio show: Coach Les Miles' weekly, one-hour radio show starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday and, according to the LSU sports information department, will be available on LSU Network affiliates KWKH-AM in Shreveport, KNOE-FM in Monroe, KZMZ-FM in Alexandria and KSLO-AM in Lafayette/Opelousas.
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