#SECPreviews- West #5 LSU Tigers
And, this is where it starts to get a little hairy.*
(*- from 1 to 6 in the division, I couldn’t really formulate discernible differences between the teams. I played all of the in-conference games on a 1-10 scale based on my confidence each team would win the game, and this is where the Bayou Bengals landed.)
What Happened Last Year?
The NFL Draft finally caught up with them, as years of losing players early to The League took every productive member of their potent 2013 offense, and the defense failed to recover.
The passing game was nonexistent, as Tigers quarterbacks completed less than half of their passes and totaled just over 2000 yards in 13 games. None of the losses (Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas) were really THAT bad until getting outgunned by Malik Zaire and Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. Ouch.
For once, their highly-recruited core returns intact (because most last year were too young to go pro). But unanswered questions at QB mitigated by Anthony Jennings’ tenuous status with the team, the replacement of John Chavis with Kevin Steele of 70-points-against-West-Virginia-in-the-Orange-Bowl fame at DC, and a running game that averaged under 4 yards per carry SIX times last year…yeah. I’m probably not high enough on LSU.
Three Key Games
Sept. 19, Auburn: Two years ago, they were the ones that cast doubt on the Gus Malzahn system on the Plains with a 35-21 victory that was never THAT close. Assuming (dangerously) a win at Mississippi State the week prior, this could be the difference between 8-0 and 5-3 before a BRUTAL November.
Nov. 7, at Alabama: If things go awry, this could legitimately be a HUGE factor in Les Miles’ future at LSU.
Nov. 14 and Nov. 28, Arkansas and Texas A&M, respectively: If things are going well, these are both potential 3:30 CBS games with LSU’s national title hopes on the line. If things are going awry, we’re looking at the unthinkable .500 season for a team that should never be at that level. RECRUIT A DAMN QUARTERBACK, LES!
Five Players to Watch
RB Leonard Fournette: There’s not an objective observer who would tell you that Fournette had a better freshman campaign than Nick Chubb. But, man. Dude is a BEAST. Unless Brandon Harris (the now-assumed starting QB who I’m, for your sake, not including in this list) shows he can connect on the Cam Cameron deep post, he’s facing 9-man boxes all. year. long.
WR Malachi Dupre: I went back to 2004 on Scout.com for the following data: ’04: Early Doucet (1), Xavier Carter (4); 2005: Brandon Lafell and Trindon Holliday, two lower-rated recruits who are actually still in the NFL; 2007: Terrance Toliver (1), Demetrius Byrd (2), Ron Brooks (6); 2009: Reuben Randle (1); (((2011 has the lower-rated Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry))). Point being, highly rated receivers have not traditionally panned out at LSU. Dupre made some big plays, averaging 23 yards per catch and grabbing 5 TD’s as a freshman, but did so on only 14 catches. Is he another victim of the Les Miles pathetic quarterbacking curse?
DT Davon Godchaux: Great name, great production as a freshman. He started 10 games as an SEC DT, and led all returning LSU defenders in quarterback hurries.
CB Tre’Davious White: For all the shortcomings at QB and WR, Miles has put DB’s into the league like its his job (and really, it is). White is another prime prospect, as he moves to the lockdown corner role in place of the departed Jalen Collins.
S Jalen Mills: Speaking of Jalens, there are a lot of good ones in NCAA secondaries this year (looking at you, Jalen Ramsey, don’t punch any women). His junior season wasn’t as good statistically as his sophomore one, but he should provide a security blanket in center field against a suddenly pass-happy SEC West.
BONUS! P Jamie Keehn: What the hell is in the water in Louisiana? Keehn checks in at a cool 6’4 220, Brad Wing style. You know, this Brad Wing. Chomp, chomp:
Gonna end this one on a high note.