#6 LSU Football 2016 Preview

LSU Tigers
Overall Rank: #6
#2 SEC
After surviving a coup by boosters at the end of the 2015 regular season, head coach Les Miles without question enters the 2016 season on the hot seat. The Tigers send players to the NFL at a very high level and the results in recent years, while great at most programs, are not good enough in Baton Rouge. If Miles can stop being stubborn and let his talented group of offensive weapons play to their potential this season, then a trip to the College Football Playoff is a legitimate possibility.
2015 Record: 9-3, 5-3
2015 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Texas Tech (W 56-27)
Coach: Les Miles (112-32 at LSU, 140-53 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Aranda
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Leonard Fournette, RB, 1,953 yards
Passing: Brandon Harris, QB, 2,165 yards
Receiving: Malachi Dupre, WR, 698 yards
Tackles: Kendell Beckwith, LB, 84
Sacks: Lewis Neal, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Jamal Adams, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Derrius Guice, WR Travin Dural, OL Ethan Pocic, OL William Clapp, CB Tre’Davious White, DL Davon Godchaux, LB Arden Key
Key Losses: OL Vadal Alexander, LB Deion Jones
Leonard Fournette just barely missed 2,000 yards in 2015 and is arguably the most valuable player to any one team in all of college football. However, if offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is going to take this offense forward, Derrius Guice is going to have to take more of the workload at running back to keep Fournette fresh throughout the season. The secondary is loaded as guys like Tre’Davious White chose to return for their final season instead of moving on to the NFL. White had seven pass breakups last season to lead the Tigers. Jamal Adams is another outstanding playmaker at safety and should be able to make a run at five plus interceptions this season. Dave Aranda should finally once and for all stabilize the defensive coordinator position after coming over from Wisconsin. With the increased level of talent at his disposal with guys like White, Adams, Kendall Beckwith and Lewis Neal at defensive end, Aranda should have an elite defense in Baton Rouge on an annual basis. The kicking game for LSU should be strong. Trent Domingue, who made 13 of 17 field goals last season, should help the Tigers when they get in tight games later in the season.
In order for LSU to get into the College Football Playoff this season they have to get better at the quarterback position. Brandon Harris is the projected starter and he has to take care of business throwing the football downfield. Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural have the ability to make big time plays in the passing game at wide receiver. However, the question remains will coach Miles trust Harris enough to turn him loose and let him go make plays with his arm. Depth at linebacker is a concern as a rash of injuries would create some issues for the Tigers that could hurt them when play more physical teams like Alabama. The offensive line has a couple of key starters to replace in Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins so it will be up to Ethan Pocic to lead the way at center until the rest of the line gels.
The Bottom Line:
A trip to Lambeau Field to play Wisconsin to start the season will be a phenomenal setting both inside and outside the stadium. Both schools have fan bases that can put on epic tailgates and that alone may make the trip worthwhile, let alone the game itself. A trip to Auburn and then to Florida within a three week time span will be a great early season test for the offense as both teams are going to dare LSU to beat them passing the ball. The Alabama game on November 5th will be judgement day for this program as fans in Baton Rouge are beyond tired of losing to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. One thing that cant happen in this matchup with Alabama is for this game to end up as a dominating blowout for the Crimson Tide. LSU has to play well and show that they can play with Alabama and, more importantly, beat them in Baton Rouge. Look for this team to win ten games and do just enough for Miles to keep his job for the 2017 season.
Projected Bowl: Sugar Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 256.8 (7th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 180.4 (105, 11)
Total Offense: 437.3 (39, 4)
Scoring Offense: 32.8 (44, 6)
Rushing Defense: 122.9 (17, 3)
Pass Defense: 224.3 (65, 12)
Total Defense: 347.2 (25, 5)
Scoring Defense: 24.3 (41, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.58 (26, 2)
Sacks: 2.83 (18, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.42 (30, 3)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#10 Leonard Fournette
#17 Tre'Davious White
#18 Jamal Adams
#26 Lewis Neal
#38 Malachi DDupre
#40 Travin Dural
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#24 Kristian Fulton
#33 Saivion Smith
#34 Rashard Lawrence
#49 Willie Allen
#78 Eric Monroe
#84 Glen Logan