#14 LSU Football 2015 Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall rank: #14
#5 SEC

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LSU had a disappointing year in 2014 as they finished the regular season 8-4 and then lost a heartbreaker to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. However, the Tigers were a very young team and the youth did show a lot of upside as they knocked off Wisconsin in the opener and #3 Ole Miss later in the year. Les Miles made it very clear at SEC Media Days that eight wins won’t cut it this time around. LSU will be a very scary team this year, because their boys just became men.

2014 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2014 Bowl: Music City Bowl vs Notre Dame (L 28-31)
Coach: Les Miles (103-29 at LSU, 131-50 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Steele

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Leonard Fournette, RB, 1,034 yards
Passing: Anthony Jennings, QB, 1,611 yards
Receiving: Travin Dural, WR, 758 yards
Tackles: Kendall Beckwith, LB, 77
Sacks: Christian LaCouture, DT, 2.5
Interceptions: Tre’Davious White, CB, 2; Rickey Jefferson, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: S Jamal Adams, QB Brandon Harris, WR Malaci Dupre, WR John Diarse, RB Darrell Williams, DB Jalen Mills, DT Davon Godchaux

Key losses: DB Jalen Collins, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Kwon Alexander, RB Kenny Hilliard, RB Terrance Magee

LSU will have arguably the most dangerous backfield in all of college football this season and it all starts with sophomore Leonard Fournette. The top 2014 high school prospect had a tremendous freshman campaign, rushing for 1,034 yards and 10 TD’s. Named to the Maxwell Award watch list, Fournette has high expectations and is expected to be a Heisman candidate. Behind Fournette is the bulky Darrell Williams, who also had a solid freshman campaign. And it doesn’t stop there, as LSU added two 4-star running backs in Nick Brossette and Derrius Guice to contribute as true freshman.

Believe it or not, LSU had the best defense in the SEC last season (statistically, at least) with multiple freshmen starting. They did lose coordinator John Chavis to rival Texas A&M, but still expect the Tigers defense not only be good, but to be one of the best in the country. New defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will be lucky to have Jamal Adams on his team, who had a huge impact last year as a true freshman and he will be one of the top safeties in the country. Other key returnees Jalen Mills, Tre’Davious White, Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux will also be huge contributors to the Tigers defense, and expect top recruits Kevin Toliver, Arden Key and Donte Jackson to see the field plenty as true freshmen. Many think LSU’s defense won’t be as good without John Chavis, but it will just get better.

LSU was ranked 114th in passing offense last season, so as you can imagine, their quarterback play was not very good. Anthony Jennings started 12 games for the Tigers last year, having only a 48.9% completion percentage. His total QBR for his sophomore campaign was 33.8, worst in the SEC amongst starting quarterbacks. Brandon Harris started one game for the Tigers at Auburn, but struggled only completing three passes all game in the 41-7 loss. He shined in his appearances off the bench last season, but never had another opportunity after the Auburn loss. He is the front-runner to win the starting QB job this time around as Jennings was arrested, along with two other players, on burglary charges over the summer. Those charges were dropped however, and all three players were recently reinstated. Harris definitely took advantage of Jennings absence though, as he was the one working with the first team over the summer, and still continues to do so in fall camp. Players say Harris has been looking significantly better in practice, has been working hard on the field, and spending a lot of time in the film room. The way he plays in a game remains to be seen, but that is certainly a great sign for LSU. Quarterback is really the only question mark for the Tigers, and if Harris or Jennings performs, they may be a title contender.

The Bottom Line:
Here’s the bottom line: LSU will be a playoff team if their quarterback, whoever it is, steps up. More than likely that person will be Brandon Harris, and the young sophomore will have to produce for the Tigers to contend. They are loaded at nearly every single position, and are an extremely talented football team. If they can solve their problems from last season at QB, they will be one of the best teams in the country. The cubs from last year just became big, ferocious Tigers. And they are hungry.

Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 224.5 (23rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 162.9 (114, 4)
Total Offense: 387.5 (77, 9)
Scoring Offense: 27.6 (73, 13)
Rushing Defense: 152.7 (46, 7)
Pass Defense: 164.2 (3, 1)
Total Defense: 316.8 (9, 3)
Scoring Defense: 17.5 (5, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (48, 8)
Sacks: 1.46 (102, 13)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (55, 4)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#32 Vadal Alexander
#38 Travin Dural
#68 Jalen Mills
#72 Tre'Davious White
#94 Jerald Hawkings

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#8 Kevin Toliver II
#30 Tyron Johnson
#37 Maea Teuhema
#43 Derrius Guice
#46 Donte Jackson
#88 Chidi Valentine-Okeke
#108 Arden Key
#112 Toby Weathersby


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