BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ever since left offensive tackle Chris Faulk was lost for the season to an ACL injury two weeks ago, LSU coach Les Miles has said he was interested in seeing a lineup that includes true freshman Vadal Alexander at right tackle and Alex Hurst, normally the starting right tackle, sliding over to the left side.
That plan was put on the backburner as Josh Dworaczyk emerged as a solid option at left tackle -- that is, until Dworaczyk suffered a knee bruise that knocked him out of last Saturday's 63-14 rout of Idaho. It allowed LSU to try the Hurst-Alexander experiment for extended snaps.
And how did it go?
"Vadal gave us a pressure [on the quarterback], but he also played pretty well after he got comfortable," Miles said. "I kind of liked what happened. I don't want injury to dictate, but I kind of like the fact that we moved guys around that will play significant snaps for us and that they performed pretty well.
Alexander has been working as the backup and likely heir apparent at right tackle behind Hurst, a senior. But Miles said he wasn't surprised that Hurst seemed to have little issue moving to the left side.
"I liked Hurst on the left side, but I like Hurst on the ride side, too," Miles said. "It didn't seem to bother him, his change of footwork and stance, in any way."
Dworaczyk said Tuesday night that he felt like he was 100 percent for Saturday's game at Auburn, where he'll be called upon to block Auburn pass-rushing end Corey Lemonier, who already has three sacks.
In the Idaho game, LSU also started sophomore Elliott Porter at center instead of usual starter P.J. Lonergan, who was slowed by a nagging injury. Miles said he expects Lonergan to be fine for Saturday's game with Auburn, although he was pleased with Porter's play.
No experiment for Ford: When a reporter asked Miles about the "experiment" of using running back Michael Ford to return kickoffs against Idaho Saturday, Miles responded by saying "It was no experiment. We like him back there."
Miles said Monday that Ford might be the choice all season.
"He really had a smile on his face when he was back there catching it," said Miles of Ford, who averaged 33 yards on three returns against the Vandals, including a 42-yard return. "He has great speed and he is physical. He runs with ball security. We think that's a natural home for him. We would like to do that the rest of the year, the best he can."
Ball security was an issue for LSU after Odell Beckham, Jr., fumbled the opening kickoff in LSU's 41-3 Week 2 win over Washington. Beckham continued to return punts for the Tigers against Idaho.
Ford may also have a larger role in LSU's running game. With Alfred Blue out with a leg injury for at least the Auburn game, likely longer, Ford, the fastest of the Tigers' remaining four tailbacks, might get more carries as the remaining back that best replicates Blue's breakaway speed. In three games, in has 107 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Be yourself: Saturday's Auburn game will be both the road and SEC debut for LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Miles offered his quarterback simple advice.
"Go be like Zach, play like we play and relax and go," Miles said.
Mettenberger has completed 73 percent of his passes -- 48-for-66 -- for 609 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in LSU's first three games, all home wins. Though he's been on rosters for two SEC seasons -- as a true freshman going through a redshirt season at Georgia in 2009 and last season at LSU -- he has taken snaps in a road SEC venue just once, at the end of last year's 52-0 win at Ole Miss.
He has yet to throw his first pass on the road. In both road games he played in last season, against Ole Miss and West Virginia, he did not throw a pass.