LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith suffered a knee injury during a spring football practice on Thursday, but the extent of the injury may be less severe than initially feared. The Advocate reports an MRI returned negative results on Beckwith’s knee and he may have only twisted the knee.
Beckwith made the decision to return to the Tigers in 2016 rather than take a jump to the NFL this year, so naturally any word of an injury will raise an eyebrow just a bit more than it normally would. In 2015, Beckwith was LSU’s second-leading tackler with 84 tackles. Only Deion Jones had more, with 100 total tackles. Coming back for the 2016 season, Beckwith is expected to be a centerpiece in LSU’s defense under new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda from Wisconsin.
With the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft approaching in a matter of hours, LSU has announced two players will be returning to Baton Rouge next season. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith and cornerback Tre’Davious White will come back for one more season in 2016, providing LSU with a pair of solid starters on defense to rely on once more.
“These are special guys,” LSU head coach Les Miles said in a released statement. “They have a real fondness and enjoyment for this football team. They are leaders; Kendell makes all the calls from the Mike linebacker spot and Tre’Davious wears No. 18, which has always been the mark of a leader. Decisions like this aren’t easy to make. These guys took their time, got all of the information necessary to make a real educated and quality decision.”
Miles also noted the obvious. LSU is returning a pretty loaded senior class for the first time in a while. LSU has sent plenty of talent on to the NFL, and that will still be the case, but LSU has commonly been one of the schools sending off a decent number of underclassmen through the NFL Draft process. Beckwith and White join wide receiver Travin Dural, center Ethan Pocic, defensive end Lewis Neal, defensive tackle Christian LaCouture and defensive back Rickey Jefferson in deciding to return to LSU in 2016. In LSU’s entire senior class of 2016, 12 have started at least one game for the Tigers.
“Anytime that you have a senior dominated team, you recognize that you are going to play with leaders, and guys always play their best year of football when they are most mature,” Miles said.
Also keep in mind LSU will also return running back Leonard Fournette for his junior season. LSU all of a sudden once again looks to have the kind of team that can make some real noise in the fall, especially if it is motivated to finish the job it could not in 2015. After starting 7-0 last season, LSU ran into a wall against Alabama and lost three straight games to fall from College Football Playoff lock to the Texas Bowl against Texas Tech. LSU opens the 2016 season against Wisconsin in Lambeu Field and could have a decent shot at getting to the bye week with another perfect record, which would include home wins against Mississippi State and Ole Miss in addition to road wins at Auburn and Florida. Then a chance for redemption would come on November 5 when Alabama comes to town.
Start taking a hard look at LSU. With the senior-heavy roster returning, another year for Fournette and a schedule that sees Alabama coming to Baton Rouge, there should be plenty of reason to start throwing them in the way-too-early playoff conversation.
This year’s version of Alabama-LSU may not match the magnitude of the epic 9-6 game just a few seasons ago, but it sure is playing out to be quite the defensive battle in Death Valley tonight. After seeing Auburn come up short at home in the hours leading up to the game, Alabama is hoping to avoid being the second SEC team upset today. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is doing his part to keep the Tide in it with a second quarter touchdown to tie things up at 7-7. A late field goal in the first half gave Alabama a small 10-7 lead at the half. Cooper set a new school record for most receiving yards in the process.
Cooper did what the best players in the sport do. When his team needed a lift, he provided it. On a fourth down with four yards to go, Nick Saban kept his offense on the field and was rewarded with Cooper catching a pass for a first down from Blake Sims. Moments later, Cooper caught a ball and found room to the end zone to tie the game on a 23-yard scoring play. Saban has suggested before he would like to see others on offense step it up, but if Cooper is going to be able to carry the team on his back then Saban is not going to hesitate to let it happen.
It was LSU that opened the scoring in this one though, in the first quarter. Quarterback Anthony Jennings lobbed one up for Malachi Dupre from 14 yards out. Dupre hauled in he pass along the left side of the end zone, but the play was initially called incomplete. The SEC officials took to the instant replay to get a better look and wasted little time in overturning the initial ruling, awarding LSU a touchdown. LSU’s offense has not been able to do much outside of that possession though. Jennings has completed just two of 10 passes for 31 yards, the one touchdown and one interception.
Alabama had a chance to get on the scoreboard earlier in the second quarter, but kicker Adam Griffith had his 27-yard attempt smack the top of the left upright and fell back toward the end zone, keeping Alabama off the scoreboard and igniting a litany of Twitter jokes about Alabama’s kicking woes. Perhaps that led Nick Saban to keep his offense on the field on the next possession when faced with a fourth down from farther out. That decision paid off with the Cooper touchdown. Griffith would make up for the miss later in the second quarter by sending a 39-yard try through the uprights, giving Alabama a 10-7 lead.