Monday, July 17, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: LSU Tigers
The Tigers did what needed to be done with their coaching situation, but nearly bungled the hire once they had one to make at the end of the season Ed Orgeron turned the team around in a way last fall, but they nearly handed the job to Tom Herman, or at least they wanted to, whether he wanted the job or not. Orgeron finally got the permanent job, but he has to understand that he was, by far, not the choice that people in the administration wanted. Can he do enough this season to make them feel safe with him at the helm, or is this another Ole Miss situation in the offing?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Derrius Guice showed people last season that maybe he was the best, if not most committed, back on the football team last season. He rushed for 1387 yards and 15 scores, and averaged 7.58 yards per carry. He is the most explosive returning back in the SEC, and is an early top ten contender for the Heisman.
A strong line is always an LSU staple, and it should be no different in 2017. KJ Malone (LT) and Maea Teuhema both return this fall, and Will Clapp should be solid at Center as well.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Danny Etling is back to start at QB, and has a new OC in Matt Canada, who worked with Nathan Peterman at Pitt last season. Etling showed signs of improvement throughout the season, but is also never going to be a superstar under center. He should get better under Canada, but he is a mere game manager, and nothing more.
There wasn't much going on in the passing game last fall, and so the receivers suffered as a result. Drake Davis and DJ Chark are projected to start, and combined for just 27 receptions last season. Depth is not great.
Depth is also an issue behind Guice at RB. If he gets hurt in 2017, there are very few options behind him that provide the same kind of punch.
The PK position is hitting reboot this fall. Freshman Connor Culp is projected to win the job.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The defense was as suffocating as always last season, but there are several questions about this group after some significant losses after last season.
One of the premier players returning is BUCK LB Arden Key, who led the team as a sophomore last season with 14.5 TFLs. Key added 56 tackles and 12 sacks to his resume last season. Donnie Alexander returns as well after a 45 tackle campaign, and promising sophomore Devin White will likely start after picking up 30 tackles as a freshman.
The secondary should be loaded this fall, as three starters return in CB Dante Jackson, CB Kevin Tolliver II, and SS John Battle. Jackson finished with eight PBUs, Tolliver added 21 tackles as a freshman, and Battle finished with 39 tackles.
Josh Growden had a solid freshman campaign at Punter, and averaged just over 41 yards per punt.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The Tigers have some issues on the line, as they took several of their personnel losses there. Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron are projected to start at the DE spots, while Greg Gilmore is slated in at NT. Gilmore is the most experienced of the three, as he started in the middle last fall.
Senior Corey Thompson is projected to win an OLB job, but he has very little to his resume at LSU. Michael Divinity, Jr. will push him for the job in fall camp.
The FS job is open heading into fall camp, with senior Ed Paris projected to start there, but he has not done very much thus far, and could be pushed by freshman JaCoby Stevens.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 BYU at Houston, 9/9 Chattanooga, 9/16 at Mississippi State, 9/23 Syracuse, 9/30 Troy, 10/7 at Florida, 10/14 Auburn, 10/21 at Ole Miss, 11/4 at Alabama, 11/11 Arkansas, 11/18 at Tennessee, 11/25 Texas A&M
There are holes to be sure for the Tigers on defense, and a few on offense. Orgeron will have his hands full in trying to put all of the pieces together, but the first thing will be to ramp up this offense to heights they have not seen in years. The defense cannot always carry the day for this football team, and the defense may have more holes to fill than the offense. Still, LSU should finish third in the West, but only if they can hold off string charges by Texas A&M and Mississippi State to do so.