The Grind: LSU Football 2018 The Season of Ifs
The 2018 version of the LSU Tigers will play one of the most rigorous schedules in recent history. Their first game is against Miami at a neutral site, and the third game is at Auburn. October 6th starts a stretch with Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama in consecutive contests. This is not a journey for the faint of heart.
The Purple and Gold begin the season with their fourth offensive coordinator, if you count Steve Ensminger twice, in the last three years.
The quarterbacking position will feature junior Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow and sophomore Myles Brennan. They have minimal game experience.
If these two quarterbacks perform at a reasonably high level, the Tigers can have a successful season. They will have to make plays.
At the time of this writing, the three top running backs were freshman Chris Curry, senior Nick Brossette, and sophomore Lanard Fournette. Brossette has 306 yards rushing on 46 carries in three seasons. Fournette has 20 yards rushing on six carries after two seasons. Sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire did well returning kicks last year, but only carried the ball nine times from the running back position.
Curry is a four-star prospect from Lee Acres, Florida.
If these three running backs perform at a reasonably high level, the Tigers can have a successful season. They will have to make plays.
Senior tight end Foster Moreau will wear the number 18 for the 2018 season. In 2017 Moreau caught 30 passes for 357 yards, averaging 11.9 yards per catch with six touchdowns.
DJ Chark and Russell Gage, two top receivers from last year, are gone. The six foot seven inch sophomore Steven Sullivan returns along with sophomore Derek Dillion at the wide receiver positions. Last year Sullivan had 219 yards on 11 catches and a touchdown.
Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles has 1159 yards in receptions and 13 touchdowns for the Red Raiders in the 2016 season.
If Giles and other minimally experienced receivers step up, it would take a lot of pressure off Tiger quarterbacks and running backs
The Tiger offensive line has proven players, mainly because of injuries last season. Senior Garret Brumfield returns as a starter at left guard. Sophomore left tackle Saadiq Charles and sophomore center Lloyd Cushenberry III saw action starting at multiple positions last year. Right guard Damien Lewis is a junior college transfer All-American who will play right guard.
A good offensive line which controls the line of scrimmage is a big help while other players gain valuable experience.
The Purple and Gold defense will be anchored by two first team Associated Press All-Americans, junior linebacker Devin White and sophomore cornerback Greedy Williams.
White led the SEC with 133 tackles, 37 solos, last year. He led the Tigers in tackles in 10 games in the 2017 campaign. In addition, he had 4.5 sacks. Last year he made history by being named SEC defensive player of the week four times.
Williams led the SEC, in 2017, with six interceptions, good for third in the country. He had 1.3 passes defended per game last campaign.
On the defensive line, junior end Rashard Lawrence plays well when he can stay healthy. Last season, he has 32 total tackles, tops among returning defensive linemen.
Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko is rumored to be a force on the defensive line, despite the fact defense and Texas Tech football has proven to be an oxymoron the last few seasons.
Sophomore outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson played well last year. He garnered All-SEC All Freshman honors and he got a lot of playing time while filling for an injured Arden Key.
Sophomore safety Grant Delpit also played well last year. He started 10 games and was fourth on the team in tackles. At 203 pounds he is a very physical defensive back.
These players mentioned are proven, and they will likely be part of a defense, which may have to carry the Tigers for at least the first part of the season.
There are other good young players on the defense with minimal playing time. The coaching staff has fed their accolades to the media, but they have to prove themselves, and they will have a steep learning curve with a difficult schedule.
If the ifs perform well early, it could be the difference a winning and a losing season.