The Strange Grind 2020
by Bryan Follins
The 2020 version of the LSU Tigers is a mystery. The team has new offensive and defensive coordinators, Steve Ensminger (again on offense), and Bo Pelini (again on defense). It has to replace a large number of experienced players who left to apply their trade in the professional ranks. Every area, with the exception of the running back position, took severe hits with departures. At the writing of this article, head football coach Ed Orgeron claimed he will not release a depth chart until one week before game one. This is no surprise.
The Tigers have talent and experience returning at the running back position with sophomores John Emery, Jr. and Chris Curry.
The Purple and Gold also have several offensive linemen with playing experience, despite heavy losses in the area.
Juniors Ed Ingram and Chasen Hines, senior Austin Deculus, and sophomore Dare Rosenthal are the four with the most playing experience on the offensive line. Deculus has played more than the other three. The Tigers also have a graduate transfer, Liam Shanahan, who was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Harvard.
Junior Miles Brennan is the only one with any experience at quarterback. Brennan will be playing for his third offensive coordinator in his career at LSU.
Losses at the receiver position were heavy. The most devastating loss was the departure of Ja’Marr Chase, who recently opted out of the 2020 season. Chase had 1780 yards in receptions and 20 touchdowns last season.
Junior Terrance Marshall is the lone returning starter at the receiver position. Marshall missed four games due to an injury in 2019, but still had 671 yards receiving with 13 touchdowns.
On the defensive line, senior Glen Logan returns after making 20 tackles in the 2019 season. In addition, mammoth junior nose tackle Tyler Shelvin returns. At 346 pounds (?), Shelvin, a space eater, often required the attention of two blockers from opposing teams last season.
The linebacking position was decimated by departures. Newcomers will have to be able to step right in and perform.
In the secondary sophomore cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr is back. Stingley is worthy of All-American praise. He is perhaps the best coverage defensive back in the country. He had 21 passes defended, second in the nation.
Senior Cameron Lewis played in every game as a safety last year.
Despite the heavy losses from last season, the Tigers have been recruiting well the past few years. The talent is there, it is just young and unproven. This season will be a week-to-week experience, especially with other factors in the world, like Covid-19 in play. It will be interesting.