LSU DT Maason Smith will not play against Florida State | LSU

LSU defensive star Maason Smith will not play in the Tigers’ Sept. 3 season-opener against Florida State due to the NCAA’s one-game suspension, multiple sources familiar with the situation told The Advocate on Wednesday.

Sources said the NCAA determined that Smith obtained an improper benefit from signing the signing before the NIL era began in July 2021. Although Smith cooperated with the investigation, the sources said the NCAA ruled him out of the first game.

Without Smith, LSU’s No. 5 team would not have one of its best defensive players against the No. 8 Seminoles in its only Top Ten game in Opening Weekend. He could return in Week 2 for the home opener against Grambling.

Although he dealt with minor injuries in pre-season camp, Smith appeared on the brink of a comeback season. Last year, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament while celebrating stopping LSU’s opening defensive possession against Florida State. He missed the rest of the season.

Sources said Smith would have served the suspension last year had he not been injured, so the NCAA applied the penalty for this season. According to Matt Moscona of WNXX, 104.5 FMSmith co-signed former LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte.

When Smith returns, LSU expects to have an annoying inside pass to anchor the defensive front. The former five-star recruit recorded four sacks and five tackles for loss in nine games as a freshman. He was selected to the preseason first team All-Southeastern Conference by the coaches and projects as a prospective All-American.

Without Smith, LSU will have to rely on junior Mekhi Wingo, junior Jacobian Guillory, and senior West Virginia players carrying Jordan Jefferson on defensive tackle against the Seminoles. Wingo became a third team All-American after taking over last year and has been a regular throughout preseason training. Guillory recently got first team rep when Smith was limited.

When Smith went down last year, LSU was able to overcome a shallow rotation as Wingo and Jaquelin Roy played more snaps than any defensive duo in the country. LSU improved its depth over the offseason by signing Jefferson and Florida transfers Jalen Lee.

Jefferson recorded 31 tackles, 9½ tackles for loss, and three sacks in 12 starts last season for West Virginia.

After missing spring training while recovering, Smith has been “picking up some rust” during the preseason, defensive coordinator Matt House said earlier this month. House said Smith has the “elite size and physique” for someone who is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds.

“What you see is this size and that athleticism,” House said on August 12. “He’s just like everybody else. He’s got improvement to do. I think he’ll tell you now if you look at it, he wants to improve his board. Sometimes, He plays great.”

Smith could bring another element to LSU’s defensive front this season with his potential as a pass rusher. Wingo finished with six tackles for loss, three sacks and five quarterback hurries last year. Roy had 3½ tackles for loss, half a sack and three quarterbacks. Guillory, the only other defensive tackle to play important snaps, did not record a sack.

The pressure came most often from the flanks, and without a fixed inside threat, teams could pass the protection in one direction and use the running backs to help block on the other side. Head coach Brian Kelly said Smith can prevent offenses from doing so.

Kelly believes teams will have more to prepare because they will have to account for internal pressure. It forces opponents into tough double-team decisions and potentially gives top runners favorable encounters.

“When you start moving the middle into him or using the (running) back, you’ll now leave our quality players one-on-one and we’ll have a really good, balanced passing rush,” Kelly said. this spring. “He brings this presence that we didn’t have last year.”

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