LSU's 2023 offseason has been filled with anticipation about star defender Harold Perkins and how he will be utilized in the upcoming fall season. Perkins, who emerged as a formidable pass rusher last year, showcased his flexibility during the spring by working as an inside linebacker. This shift in position was a strategic move to enhance his overall skill set.
Defensive coordinator Matt House revealed that Perkins specifically joined LSU to master the inside linebacker position, and that's where he focused his efforts during spring practices. However, House also recognized Perkins' exceptional pass-rushing abilities and mentioned that he would continue to train with outside linebackers coach John Jancek in pass-rush packages.
While Perkins is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with as a pass rusher, LSU's coaching staff acknowledges the importance of maximizing his potential from the inside as well. Head coach Brian Kelly expressed his optimism for Perkins' performance in the 2023 season, highlighting how opponents would often shift their pass protection to Perkins' side last year to gain an edge on the edge. This left the offense with a numbers advantage while relying on a running back for protection on the opposite side.
Kelly emphasized that this defensive vulnerability stemmed from not having a dominant inside player who could consistently win one-on-one matchups. However, the return of Maason Smith changes the game. The coaching staff firmly believes that Smith, positioned on the interior, possesses the capabilities to become a formidable pass rusher. This newfound strength allows for greater flexibility in utilizing Perkins.
With the option to rush Perkins up the middle, LSU's opponents now face a dilemma. They must decide whether to slide their protection outside to block Perkins or double-team Smith on the interior. Both scenarios play to LSU's advantage, as they possess two versatile and talented players in Perkins and Smith who can excel in various roles on the defensive front.
Last season, the absence of Smith and Perkins' gradual acclimation to the college level limited LSU's defensive capabilities. However, with both players on the field together now, LSU's defense is poised to take another significant step forward. Expectations are high, and fans can anticipate a formidable and dynamic defensive unit that will keep opponents on their toes.
As the 2023 season approaches, LSU's opponents should be prepared to face the formidable duo of Harold Perkins and Maason Smith. Their versatility, combined with their individual strengths, will undoubtedly elevate LSU's defense and leave a lasting impact on the field.