2021 Previews: SEC West

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3. LSU Tigers (9-3, 5-3)

Rankings (Ex, Vg, Av, Fr, Pr)
Quarterbacks: Vg
Running Backs: Av
Wide Receivers: Av
Offensive Line: Vg

Defensive Line: Vg
Linebackers: Av
Defensive Backs: Vg
Special Teams: Vg

Any with good offensive and defensive lines has a chance to make noise in the SEC, and LSU certainly has those attributes going for them. But the are coming off a complete meltdown of a season that saw weak leadership from the doom the year before it ever got off the ground. The talent is certainly here to stage a quick turnaround, but what about the actual process?

Offense: What could go right
Hidden behind the more obvious storylines of last season’s collapse was the emergence of Max Johnson at quarterback. Johnson didn’t get all the way to a 60-percent completion rate, but he threw 8 touchdowns against just 1 interception during his time at starter and helped settle down a in desperate need of it. Freshman backup Garrett has shown out in fall camp. Kayshon Boutte gives them both a solid target at receiver. But the strength of the offense is a line that should be one of the best in the conference, even with the loss of LT Dare Rosenthal as a transfer.

Offense: What could go wrong
was set to give LSU valuable at quarterback, one of the most experienced in all of FBS, but broke his arm on a fishing trip, a scenario so strange it could only happen at LSU. Between his loss and Rosenthal’s departure, the summer began to look ominously like LSU 2020 all over again. Things seem to have stabilized since then, but there are still practical concerns about an unproven (but at least, experienced) running back group, lack of established depth at receiver behind Boutte, and a potential hole at the tight end spot.

Defense: What could go right
Like the offense, the defense is strong up front, but will be without emerging DL Glen Logan for at least part of the season due to a broken foot. LSU needs playmakers to step up at edge rusher, but the middle of the line is expected to be a no-go zone. The defensive backfield could wind up being tops in the conference if Derek Stingley Jr. can stay healthy and focused. Linebacker isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either. Still, expect massive improvement on this side of the ball now that LSU has upgraded the defensive coaching staff.

Defense: What could go wrong
LSU needs someone to step up at middle linebacker, whether that turns out to be JUCO transfer Navonteque Strong or someone else. Micah Baskerville missed spring camp due to academics, but is expected to play a role. The question is whether there’s a real playmaker in this group anywhere. The other big issue for LSU is that Stingley needs to cash in on his potential. He’s coming out of a season where some receivers abused him, and the early camp injury isn’t going to help.

One-sentence summary: Talented for sure, but … it’s an Ed Orgeron team.
Orgeron has more to prove than anyone else affiliated with the program. It was his failure to lead in 2020 that turned LSU from a finely-tuned race car to an Oldsmobile at the local demolition derby. Orgeron bleeds bravado and the feed off it, but there’s a point at which delivering on the promise – with discipline – becomes far more important.

Continue Reading the 2021 SEC West Previews: Ole Miss Rebels

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