Through the 2018 and 2019 football season, the LSU offensive line has struggled to maintain a consistent, complete lineup. It has shuffled players around to different positions, not allowing the unit to build chemistry.
While the whole line hasn’t remained consistent, junior center Lloyd Cushenberry and senior guard Damien Lewis have been stable forces at center and right guard. Both Cushenberry and Lewis started all 13 games last season as well as the first four games of the 2019 season.
Lewis joined the team as a junior college transfer in 2018, and at the time was expected to add depth at the guard and center positions. During fall camp in 2018, Lewis quickly made a good impression on LSU coach Ed Orgeron.
Off the field in the weight room, Lewis proved his abilities, bench pressing 500 pounds and squatting around 635 pounds. Lewis and senior defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko are considered the strongest players on the team.
“To me, Damien Lewis, if he keeps on progressing, has to be on the field soon,” said Orgeron last season.
Orgeron’s statement came true as guard Ed Ingram was suspended for the season, and Lewis stepped in immediately and preformed well.
A bright spot on an ever-changing line and a consistent presence for the Tigers rushing attack, Lewis helped running back Nick Brossette reach the 1,000-yard mark.
Cushenberry redshirted to start his career at LSU in 2016 and played mostly on special teams in 2017. In 2018, with the departure of starting center Will Clapp, Cushenberry took control of the starting center spot and quickly became one of the leaders on the offense.
Cushenberry was one of the three players chosen by Orgeron to represent LSU at Southeastern Conference media days, a sign of the veteran Cushenberry had become.
“He was our most consistent lineman last year, a leader up front,” said Orgeron over the summer. “Lloyd is our best player right now on the offensive line.”
So far in 2019, Cushenberry and Lewis have been as solid as they were in 2018, creating a wall in the middle of the line of scrimmage and allowing only one sack from pressure up the middle.
With the protection that Cushenberry and Lewis have provided for LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow, the Tigers have produced eye-popping numbers through the air.
Burrow has 1,727 yards passing and 18 total touchdowns in just four games, a credit to how Cushenberry and Lewis have played but also the offensive line as a whole.
“The offensive line has done a great job so far this season protecting Joe and giving him time to make the right reads and throws,” Orgeron said. “ I’m proud of the way those guys have fought and hope they keep it up.”
“[The offensive line] definitely played well so far this season and kept me pretty well protected, so I can get the ball to our play-makers,” Burrow said. “I think they’ve improved a lot from last season, through the fall, summer and then spring camp.”