LSU Football The Grind 2019
The 2019 version of the LSU football team has a chance to ensconce itself as one of the elite college football teams of the season. At first glance, the 2019 schedule does not seem as daunting as last year. The Tigers have five road games. They are against Texas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama. Seven games are at home, including big ones against, Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M.
They are set up.
On offense, the quarterback position is no mystery. Senior Joe Burrow was the team leader in total offense last season. In 2018 Burrow accounted for 3,293 yards of offense, 2894 through the air. He completed 58 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Burrow does not turn the ball over much, which is a great asset. He did not suffer any major injuries, another plus for the offense, which had only one other quarterback with any reasonable playing experience.
That other quarterback is sophomore Miles Brennan, who still does not have any reasonable playing experience. So, the Tigers will have to walk the thin line of faith again this season.
Running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette return to the team. The former is a junior and the latter is a senior. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 677 yards last year with seven touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Tigers also signed five-star prospect John Emery out of Destrehan High school in Destrehan, Louisiana. Freshman Tyrion Davis-Price is another highly regarded freshman running back who will wear the purple and gold this season.
The Tigers return four top receivers from the 2018 season. Junior Justin Jefferson had 54 receptions for 875 yards last year, averaging over 16 yards per catch with six touchdowns. Senior tight end Stephen Sullivan had 363 yards in receiving, averaging 15.8 yards per grab, sophomore JaMarr Chase 313 yards in catches averaging 13.6 per reception, and senior Derek Dillon recorded 307 yards in receptions, averaging 14 yards per catch.
The big question mark on offense is the line. Juniors Lloyd Cushenberry, Saahdiq Charles, and Austin Deculus saw considerable playing time last year, in different positions. However, against Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi State, teams with good defensive lines, the offensive line was thoroughly outplayed. The offensive line is currently a mystery. If they are just solid, if not spectacular, the Tigers could still have a great season.
The defense should be strong, despite the loss of Devon White and Greedy Williams.
Two of the top four tacklers on defense last season were linebackers Jacob Phillips and Michael Divinity, Jr. Phillips, a junior, had 87 total tackles, with 32 solos. Divinity, a senior, had 54 total tackles, 20 unassisted. He had 10 tackles for losses (tfls), including five sacks. Sophomore K'Lavon Chaisson, who was injured in the Miami game last year, and missed the season, is a play maker at the outside linebacker spot. Junior Patrick Queen had five tfls last campaign. The linebacking position may be the deepest and most talented position on the team.
Junior Grant Delpit will probably be playing his last season at LSU. Delpit is arguably one of the top ten players in the country. The junior safety was the third leading tackler on the squad last season with 74 total tackles and 46 solos. He had nine tfls, with five sacks, and five interceptions. In 2018, senior defensive back Kristian Fulton started 10 games in the secondary. Juniors JaCoby Stevens and Kary Vincent, Jr started three and seven games respectively in the defensive backfield last year. The Tigers also welcome four-star recruit Derek Stingley, Jr., into the fold
Senior defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence was the fifth leading tackler on the team with 54 stops, 23 solos, and four sacks. If his knee is well, he will be the leader on the defensive line. Junior Glen Logan had four sacks last year.
The Tigers welcome a great recruiting class, which will give the team good depth. However, other conference foes recruited well, so the season will be competitive.
Note: This article was written with just under two weeks to go before the season opener, on August 31, against Georgia Southern.