July 8, 2018 9:07:13 AM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 55 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: If all goes as planned and Greg Eiland is MSU's left tackle, what is he up against this year?
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks must really like what they have in Rayshad Nichols, because he is listed as a defensive tackle but he started the entire season on the edge of the defense and since SFA had two juniors at defensive tackle last season, Nichols could be there again. Backup Larron Cox was freshman alongside Nichols last season, so this could be a spot of good experience for the Lumberjacks.
Kansas State: Reggie Walker was a Second Team All-Big 12 selection last year and he is back for more and he's been a big piece of this defense since he got on campus: he started 11 times as a a freshman and shows no signs of slowing down going into his junior season.
UL Lafayette: The Ragin' Cajuns are likely to rely on a newcomer on the other side of their defensive line (more on that in a few days), and the same could be seen here as they try to replace Kevon Perry. Zi'Yon Hill played a few games as a freshman and could be called upon for more, plus there's junior college addition Bennie Higgins.
Kentucky: T.J. Carter got a lot of play out here last year and he's back for more, but so is the talented sophomore Josh Paschal. The edge looks like it could be one of the better parts of Kentucky's defense, both for those two and for the guys on the other side, which you see will more of later in the countdown.
Florida: The talent is there, but there isn't a real lead in July on who will be getting the reps here. A list of names you could see: Jabari Zuninga, Jachal Polite, Antonneus Clayton, Zachary Carter and others.
Auburn: Eiland will have the enviable task of taking on Marlon Davidson, the 6-foot-3, 282-pound monster who was tied for Auburn's second-best sack artist as a sophomore, and that came after a freshman season that put him on the map.
LSU: The Tigers have the unenviable task of replacing Christian LaCouture and Arden Key, which means they'll have to do so the classic LSU way: inexperienced talent.There is a chance that LSU could put experienced talent in this spot, Rashard Lawrence, but there is also the possibility for heavy doses of names such as Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko, Neil Farrell, Davin Cotton, Ed Alexander, Tyler Shelvin. For true scouting reports on those guys, you'll have to watch the Tigers early in the season.
Texas A&M: This is one where it looks like right tackle Stewart Reese might have the tougher task. With Jarrett Johnson and Qualen Cunningham gone, the Aggies are going to have to figure something out at this position and who knows what that is going to be. Before he was shown the door, Kevin Sumlin went the JUCO route to get Micheal Clemons, but that didn't work out last year;
Louisiana Tech: He was Martinas Rankin's problem last year, and now Eiland has to deal with many would argue is the best defensive lineman in Conference USA: Jaylon Ferguson. He had an admittedly down year last year statistically but he was still a first team all conference selection, so that speaks to his prowess.
Alabama: Mississippi product Raekwon Davis seems like the most likely person to be on the left flank of this defensive line, but Alabama has been known to move guys around within games to very the scheme. That could expose Eiland to Isaiah Buggs -- who has his own Mississippi connection, having Mississippi Gulf Coast CC on his resume -- LaBryan Ray and Louisiana product Phidarian Mathis, among others. Are you seeing the common thread here? This is a tough ask for Eiland.
Arkansas: If Arkansas has its way, Dorian Gerald will be manning the spot across the line from Eiland. Gerald was a highly touted prospect coming out of College of the Canyons (California) and was a big get for Arkansas when they got him -- Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M put the moves on him personally, visiting him in the final weeks.
Ole Miss: With all the losses from last season on the defensive front, there is likely to be some shuffling, so this is one where the alignment piece is more tricky than the most (which is saying a ton, because all of this has been hard). Names you will likely see on the edge for Ole Miss include Victor Evans, Qaadir Sheppard, Ryder Anderson and Markel Winters. Where the end up alignment-wise, who knows.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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