Coming off possibly the GREATEST SEASON EVER IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL, the Tigers are set to start the season against Miss St. LSU has lost an abundance of talent across the board, a defensive coordinator, in Dave Aranda. A passing game coordinator in Joe Brady, as well as several analysts. But fear not Tiger fans, this team has a new crop of stand athletes that will have your eyes glued to the television come kick off at 2:30pm CST on September 26th.
LSU on Offense:
The field general aka the quarterback: One of the biggest question marks entering the off-season was how would the Tigers replace Joe Burrow and his Heisman campaign season. LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron recently praised his new starter Myles Brennan when comparing the two. “Myles has a better arm than Joe, its stronger.” said Orgeron. “His feet aren’t like Joe’s when it comes to extending plays in the pocket. The short game is Myles’ strong point and he can throw the deep ball.” Coach Orgeron went on to talk about the struggles that LSU overcame as a team with Joe Burrow at the helm. “We weren’t nearly as good at the beginning of Joe’s career as we were at the end.” said Orgeron. “We need to take it one game at a time.” Myles also knows the weight of being the starter for the tigers but is taking it one game at a time. “Just because I’m the starter nothing has changed.” said Brennan. “I’m going to prepare like I always have. Now I’m just running out on the field first.”
The running backs: With the loss of Clyde Edwards-Helarie to the NFL, there was a huge fear of drop off from the running back position. Clyde Edwards-Helaire after all, was a key component in the win for the Tigers in Tuscaloosa last season. “If we have one strength we feel it’s the running back position.” Orgeron said. “John Emery is looking fantastic. He’s bigger, he’s matured.” “When we recruited Chris, he reminded us of Marshawn Lynch.” said Orgeron. “I’m not sure if he’s as fast as him and I’m still not sure, but he’s a guy that wants to run you over and wear you down.” When asked about the running back room, during a zoom meeting earlier this week Chris Curry had one word to describe it. “Versatile.” He then followed it up with “We have speed, power. We have vision we’re just smarter all around.” In the first preseason game, Ty Davis-Price had six carries for 77 yards. Look for Davis-Price to spell Curry or be a possible third down back.
At receiver and tight end: Losing Ja’Marr Chase to opting out and Justin Jefferson to the NFL Draft was definitely a huge blow for the Tigers. But as Coach O says “next man up.” Between the two receivers, nearly 200 balls were caught in 2019, and many have overlooked receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and that the junior had been neck-and-neck with Chase before suffering an injury that slowed Marshall in 2019. The 6’3 receiver was still able to haul in 13 TDs in 12 games, being tied for seventh in the nation in receiving touchdowns in 2019. Kayson Boutte has drawn high praise from his teammates and coaches alike. “Kayson has come to work since Day 1.” said Brennan. “He really didn’t miss a Saturday throwing session.” Another interesting player to watch on Saturday will be true freshman tight end Arik Gilbert. The Former Gatorade Player of the Year. He has been compared to the likes of former NFL receiver Calvin Johnson by his teammates on the defense. “Arik Gilbert has kind of a Megatron kind of build” said Jabril Cox. “You think he’s going to run you over, but he can run right by you.” Cox later went on to make a very bold statement about Gilbert’s future. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing he could be the best tight end to ever play college football.” Coach Orgeron also has praised Gilbert “You’re going to see him all over the place” said Orgeron. “He was the National Gatorade Player of the Year. The only tight end to ever win it, he is the best tight end to come out of high school in the last 15 years.” Look for Gilbert to line up tight and split out this week as the Tigers try to get him the ball in space as much as possible.
On the offensive line: Austin Deculus is the only returning starter from last season. But Ed Ingram, Dare Rosenthal, and Chasen Hines all have significant playing time. Joined by grad transfer Liam Shanahan, from Harvard, where he was a three year starter for the Crimson. Shanahan started at right guard and right tackle in 30 consecutive games and earned first team All-Ivy League his junior year. He will start at Center for LSU. “Liam Shanahan is very smart, he makes the calls for us” said Orgeron. “Austin Deculus won a National Championship at Tackle. I think a guy that will surprise a lot of people is Chasen Hines.”
The defensive line: LSU welcomed back former defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and with it an attacking 4-3 defense. Also welcomed back defensive linemen Neil Farrell and Nelson Jenkins III, both opted out before the season and opted back in. Ali Gaye is a player that has been talked about all preseason, as well as BJ Ojulari. Gaye is a JUCO transfer and is projected to start at defensive end. While Ojulari is projected to be a back-up, but will most likely see significant playing time.
Linebackers: The Tigers lost all three starting linebackers from 2019 to the NFL Draft. But they look to have replaced and reloaded nicely. Jabril Cox, the transfer from North Dakota State University, helped the Bison win three FCS Championships in a row. Cox was a two-time FCS All-American with 258 tackles, 32 TFLs, and 14 sacks. Cox loves playing in Pelini’s 4-3 defense. “The 4-3 defense is fun” said Cox. “You can expect a lot of blitzing out of it. We’re trying to apply a lot of pressure and wreak a lot of havoc out of it.”
Defensive Backs: LSU returns JaCoby Stevens recipient of the #7 jersey, as well as Derek Stingley Jr., freshman All-American, and SEC interception leader (6). Todd Harris will also be in the line up again this year for the Tigers after going down against Northwestern St. with a knee injury. With so many teams using the spread this season, look for LSU to use more of their nickel corner in coverage.
For Miss St.
Expect Miss St. to come out throwing the ball in bunches, Mike Leach brings his air raid style offense to the SEC. Also quarterback K.J. Costello transfers in from Stanford. Costello followed Leach from the Pac-12 to Miss St. to run this air raid offense. The Bulldogs have possibly one of the best running backs in the country in Kylin Hill, and it will be interesting to see how Leach uses him in that passing attack. If Hill is able to catch and run out of the backfield, he could have 10-12 targets Saturday afternoon. Not just on screens, or angle routes but if the quarterback has to create space with his feet.
If Costello is unable to create space with his feet however, Hill could be in for a long night.