On a mission

Former Westgate standout Josh Boutte (76) smiles as he listens to a question from former New Iberia Senior High kicker Colby Delahoussaye at LSU’s football media day in Baton Rouge recently. Boutte is competing to be the starting right guard for the Tigers and has proven to be one of the biggest, strongest linemen in team history.

BATON ROUGE — The Friday night lights were shining in Tiger Stadium for a full-scale scrimmage last week as LSU continued preparations for 2015.

The Tigers played smash-mouth football against each other, a development duly noted by head coach Les Miles two days later in the Shirley & Bill Lawton Room on LSU Media Day and, about an hour later, by one of the biggest Tiger players ever, Josh Boutte, a junior who stands 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weighs 340 pounds.

The hitting at the line of scrimmage was explosive, Miles said. Boutte, who starred at Westgate High School in New Iberia, agreed.

“We were playing to the whistle,” Boutte said during the meet-the-media part of the afternoon Sunday.

Playing against LSU defensive tackles like 307-pound Christian Lacouture and 293-pound Davon Godchaux, he said, can only make him better in his quest to be a starter at right guard in his third season at LSU, Boutte said.

Down the road, later in the season, Boutte and his teammates will be facing an Alabama Front 7 that’s arguably the best in the SEC. He’s looking forward to the challenge but, really, he said, it’s a challenge any time the team steps on the field for an SEC battle.

“They’re in the SEC. Any opponent in the SEC recruits big guys, strong guys. As far as them as competition, we look at them like anybody on the schedule. McNeese is first on the schedule (Sept. 5 in Baton Rouge), so we’re looking forward to them,” Boutte said.

LSU has more incentive to start the season on a positive note after finishing last season on a sour note with a 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the Music Bowl. The Tigers were 8-5.

“That bowl game hurt us a little bit. We have that in the back of our mind. It was our last game of the season. We’re using that as motivation,” Boutte said.

“We’ve been working on being the best offensive line in the country. It’s been crazy. We’ve been working hard when the coaches are present and working even harder when they aren’t,” he said.

Boutte, the son of Marie Boutte, has found a home away from home, which he visited a couple of times over the summer seeing family and friends. Since fall camp began, he has been on a happy mission.

“It’s awesome competing for a starting job and playing for LSU,” he said with a beaming smile. “It feels great. I don’t quite have the job right now. Obviously, coach has to make the final decision. (But) I’m heading in the right direction, hopefully.”

Jeff Grimes, Boutte’s position coach, sees a mammoth, strong blocker when he watches Boutte.

“He’s the hulk. If he’s going to smash something, he can smash it as good as anyone. He has unbelievable strength and really good agility and talent for a player his size,” Grimes said.

Getting Boutte to smash something as part of a designed offensive play is the coach’s intention in the weeks leading up to LSU’s regular-season opener at home against McNeese State University. So far, Boutte is answering the bell in his quest to be the starter at right guard.

Grimes said, “I think the progress Josh has made in a year-and-a-half has been more than anyone on the team. He’s becoming mature and reliable. He’s walking around with a smile, his chest out and really likeable.”

Jerald Hawkins, one of the veteran starters on the offensive line who hails from Baldwin and West St. Mary High School, has been impressed with Boutte, too.

“He’s doing great. He’s getting better every day. He’s a mauler. He’s physical. You can never deny him,” Hawkins said.

Boutte likes the smashing part. It’s obviously a big part of an offensive lineman’s genes.

“Smashing a guy to the ground and seeing your running back go for a touchdown is the greatest feeling,” he said, emphasizing the second to last word of the sentence.

“As far as physically dominating opponents, I’m doing everything I need to do technique-wise. I’ve just got to keep working. I can always get better. That’s the biggest thing. Jerald and Vadal coming back, it shows you can get better,” he said, referring to right tackle Vadal Alexander.

Camaraderie among the Tigers was apparent on LSU Media Day, particularly after New Iberia Senior High graduate and returning LSU placekicker Colby “The Cajun Kicker” commandeered a microphone and had fun interviewing various Tiger teammates.

“Colby’s something else. If you’re having a bad day, talk to Colby. Colby’s a clown. I love Colby,” Boutte said as he watched the placekicker play an impromptu role of television interviewer for LSU Sports.net. Hilarity ensued with each of the players and coaches targeted across the indoor practice field by Delahoussaye and Australian punter Jamie Keehn.

For example, in a thick Cajun accent, Delahoussaye asked Boutte and Vadal Alexander, who were seated next to each other on folding chairs, “(Have) you ever had crawfish etouffée soooo gooood that your toes curl like dat; look, like dat’ (while bending forefinger and finger next to it on his left hand and exaggerating the movement)?”

Alexander threw back his head, smiled broadly and said with a hearty laugh, “No, I haven’t.”

Boutte laughed good-naturedly, too.

Seriously, he said later, “Colby has skill. He’s a great kicker.”

That Delahoussaye and Hawkins hail from the Teche Area is important to Boutte, who keeps up with happenings back home and at Westgate High School.

“I talked to Coach Antoine (Westgate head coach Ryan Antoine) a while back and he said they’re going to have a pretty good year. He’s looking forward to a great senior year from Taylor (Westgate offensive lineman Taylor Fondal, the son of Anderson Middle School head coach Glenn Fondal),” Boutte said.

And Miles and Grimes are looking forward to a great junior season from Boutte.

Load comments