The Grind: LSU football 2021
by Bryan Follins
The small stories in college football, these days, appear to be who is actually playing.
The big stories are: What school will be in what conference from year to year? Who will be able to coach from week-to-week due to health concerns? Who will be able to play from week-to-week due to health concerns? What will be the first conference to have 20 teams? When will the college football playoffs grow to 24 teams?
The 2021 version of the LSU football tigers will not be lacking experience, especially on offense. The offensive line returns four players who have started at their positions. All of them are seniors. Seniors? In FBS college football? Playing for the same squad for four years? What a novelty.
Senior tackle Austin Deculus has been starting since his freshman season. He can play every position on the offensive line. Senior guards Ed Ingram and Chasen Hines return on the interior. Hines can also play center. Senior Liam Shanahan is back at center.
The starting quarterback will be sophomore Max Johnson. Last season, as a freshman, he threw 150 passes, completing 88, with eight touchdowns and one interception. His completion percentage rate was 58 percent. He threw for a career high 435 yards against Ole Miss. Johnson is the only Tiger quarterback with any mentionable experience, due to transfers and injuries.
The primary receiving target for Johnson will be sophomore Kayshon Boutte. Last season, as a freshman, Boutte played well. In the Ole Miss contest, Bouttee had 308 yards in receptions. He had three consecutive games, including Ole Miss, with at least 100 yards in catches. He was second on the team in catches with 45, and touchdown grabs with five.
The two top running backs for the Purple and Gold are juniors Tyrion-Davis Price and John Emery, Jr., who were high school All-Americans. Freshman Corey Kiner was a high school All-American. Price led the team in rushing last year with 446 yards. He scored three touchdowns. Emery rushed for 378 yards and the same amount of touchdowns.
The top defensive player for the Tigers is junior cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr., arguably the top cover man in college football.
The defensive line has four players with good experience. All are seniors. Glenn Logan is a sixth-year senior. Neil Farrell, Jr is a fifth year senior. They are solid, if not spectacular. Sixth-year senior Andre Anthony had 5.5 sacks from one edge, leading the team last year. Senior Ali Gaye was a good player off of the other edge last season. He had 9.5 tackles for losses, sixth in the league.
The Tigers were not good on defense last year. There were not many teams in college football who played good defense last season.
The Tigers are in good hands with junior placekicker Cade York. The junior has kicked 10 field goals from 50 or more yards in his career as a Tiger. In 2020 he kicked 18 field goals which led the conference, and was sixth nationally.
The Tigers have good raw talent on defense, most of it unproven at this stage. They also have new offensive and defensive coordinators, so things will be interesting.