#StraightFromTheBush How will moving 'super athletic' Breiden Fehoko to nose tackle work for
LSU Tigers defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko (91) during the Tigers' National L-Club Spring Game in Baton Rouge on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Breiden Fehoko isn't going to be the 350-pound nose tackle clogging up several blockers so others can make plays. He's 50- to 60-pounds lighter than the guys he's competing with for that spot.
He's not small. He's just not Ed Alexander or Tyler Shelvin big, and LSU is hoping that creates a mismatch on the line of scrimmage.
Star linebacker Devin White lines up right behind Fehoko in practice now that the Texas Tech transfer has moved from left end to nose tackle, and White likes what he's seeing.
"He's super athletic as a nose tackle," White said. "When you think of a nose tackle, you think of a big guy just clogging the middle, but he makes so many plays in the backfield."
Fehoko spent Sunday (Aug. 5) downplaying any notion the move to nose was a big deal for him. He said he played it some at Texas Tech, and he practiced it last season with then-defensive line coach Pete Jenkins.
But it was certainly news when LSU coach Ed Orgeron announced to the Baton Rouge Rotary Club on Wednesday (Aug. 1) that Fehoko was moving inside due to Ed Alexander's "minor setback" with a knee injury.
Fehoko said he will do whatever Orgeron and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda think is best, so they told him a week before Orgeron's announcement, and he thinks it's been an easy transition.
Orgeron and defensive line coach Dennis Johnson gave Fehoko a mandate after spring to get in better shape. He's cut about 10 pounds and improved flexibility this summer, and Orgeron said Saturday he was in much better shape than spring.
White laughed when asked about Fehoko being smaller for a nose tackle.
"He's still bigger," he said. "He's just more athletic. He looks like a small guy. He dresses like a small guy, so he plays like a small guy. He can hold his own in that middle."
Fehoko could still move back to end if Ed Alexander is good to go soon, but for now LSU brings out a defensive front with more athleticism. Fehoko's move opens up the left end spot for sophomore Glen Logan, who brings a long, explosive body. Junior Rashard Lawrence then holds down the right side.
White said Fehoko also provides versatility, in which he can jump to different spots in games when LSU wants to go with a bigger body like Shelvin and Alexander in the middle.
Fehoko said his conditioning is at an all-time high. Orgeron thought he could go 50 more plays if needed Saturday.
"I think that's one thing Coach Aranda wants to do is evolve, and we have done that," Fehoko said. "We are moving quicker in the fall. I thought we were moving quick in the spring, but it's picked up even more."
Time will tell where everyone ends up on the LSU defensive line. It could come down to what kind of shape Alexander and Shelvin are in. It could come down to health.
Fehoko hasn't played an SEC football game yet. Let alone one at nose tackle.
White, who often operates as the defense's player-coach, thinks Fehoko adds a new element inside.
"I know we didn't have any pads on yesterday, but he lived in the backfield."