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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #18 LSU

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 10, 2017

#18 LSU Tigers

2016 Recap:
An 8-4 season for LSU was rather pedestrian and we saw a changing of the guard with Les Miles escorted out and Ed Orgeron came aboard as the new coach. The team went 6-2 under Orgeron with the only losses coming against Alabama and Florida and both went down to the final five minutes of play.


Coaching:
Orgeron has stepped in before as he helped turn USC around a few years back and did lead Ole Miss for a few seasons before Hugh Freeze. The team has taken to Orgeron and the bigger question comes in the form of Matt Canada who has been hired to revitalize the dormat LSU passing attack. Dave Aranda leads a defense that ranked 5th nationally in scoring defense allowing only 15.8 PPG in 2016.

 

Offense

As stated earlier the focus will be on improving the passing game which has been bland, predictable and non-productive. The fans in Baton Rouge are getting restless as LSU still has a wonderful game even after losing Leonard Fournette. Derrius Grice could be a "one and done" player leaving for the NFL as a junior. The problem has been teams stacking the box and blitzing running lanes as the non-existant passing attack and unbalanced offense has left LSU one of the easier SEC teams to defend. Danny Etling is back for his senior season and he was an improvement later in the year over Brandon Harris, who has now transferred. New coordinator Matt Canada has some weapons to throw to and in traditional LSU fashion, has a stoudt offensive line for pass protection and run blocking. D.J. Chark is one of the most talented receivers in the conference but he caught only 26 passes a season ago in the stale attack which ranked 101st nationally. Chark has all the speed you can ask for and averaged just under 18 YPC when the football was in his hands. Expect more bubble screens just letting Chark work in the open field.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Derrius Guice RB 2nd Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                       D.J. Chark WR 2nd Round 2018.


Defense

Arden Key is now the premeire pass rusher in the SEC with the departures of Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett. Key averaged over a sack a game and will most likely transition to outside linebacker who will occasionally line up on the edge at the next level. Questions were abound regarding Key and his shoulder injury and overall committment to the game but it looks like he will be ready to start the season. The biggest help to Key may come in the form of Christian LaCouture returning at defensive end in the 3-4 set  meaning LSU has the most gifted set of starting ends in the conference. Greg Gilmore will more than hold his own in the middle of the field and it will be important since the linebacking unit is filled with new starters. Donte Jackson is the new alpha dog at cornerback and John Battle and Ed Paris give the Tigers a solid safety duo. This defense should be near the top of the conference and nationally in virtually every major statistic like they were in 2016.

Best Draft Prospects: Arden Key De/LB 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate and Possible top 5 Pick).               

                                       Christian LaCouture DT 3rd Round 2018.


Special Teams:

LSDU keeps with the Aussie punters as Josh Growden returns after a productive year within the SEC. Connor Culp is the new kicker and the reviews have been very positive on his performance this spring. Donte Jackson tries to become the next Tre'Davious White as he will not only be the top corner but he should be handling most if not all of the return duties for the Tigers.


Schedule:

LSU will open with a pesky BYU team in Houston. The schedule is not as king when it comes to home vs. away tiolts this season as Alabama, Florida and Tennessee are all road games with Auburn looking like the only major SEC player that will be coming to Baton Rouge.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Talent is abound at LSU as they have had more people drafted out of the school in the last 10 years then any SEC school not named Alabama. The individual talent is off the charts with the performance of Arden Key being a huge focal point. The outlook is somewhat cloudy with fans being promised once again to have a revamped passing attack, something that has been promised with a failed delivery over the last four to five seasons.

 

DJ Boyer