#7 LSU Football 2017 Preview


LSU Tigers


Overall Rank: #7

#2 SEC

LSU removed the interim tag from Coach Ed Orgeron and he is ready to ignite an LSU offense that has often struggled. The 2016 campaign was a tough one for the Tigers and they lost a lot of close, low scoring games. The hope is the new offense can turn some of those close losses into close wins, but there are some holes to fill on both sides of the ball and it remains to be seen if LSU is ready to unseat Alabama from their perch atop the SEC West.
2016 Record: 8-4, 5-3
2016 Bowl: Citrus Bowl vs. Louisville (W 29-9)
Coach: Ed Orgeron (6-2 at LSU, 22-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Canada
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Aranda
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Derrius Guice, RB, 1,387 yards
Passing: Danny Etling, QB, 2,123 yards
Receiving: DJ Clark, WR, 466 yards
Tackles: Arden Key, LB, 56
Sacks: Arden Key, LB, 12.0
Interceptions: Donte Jackson, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: OL Will Clapp, LB Donnie Alexander
Key Losses: RB Leonard Fournette, WR Malachi Dupre, OL Ethan Pocic, LB Duke Riley, S Jamal Adams, CB Tre’Davious White, DL Davon Godchaux, DE Lewis Neal, LB Kendell Beckwith
For now Coach Orgeron and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada will have to work with what they have. Former Purdue Boilermaker Danny Etling is the only experience quarterback left on the roster. He started ten games last season and threw for 2,123 yards and five touchdowns. He is not an explosive quarterback, but Etling is steady enough to help balance out the run heavy offense. That seems like it could be the case even more in 2017 with the loss of top receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. D.J. Chark figures to be the top target after catching 26 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the absence of Leonard Fournette, the Tigers still have a great ground game. Derrius Guice rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.
As usual LSU will have one of the best defenses in the country. Last season they ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing a mere 15.8 points per game. It should be more of the same in 2017. Sophomore Rashard Lawrence has a ton of potential and could step into a starting spot. Christian LaCouture is back after missing last season with an injury and should move to an end spot in LSU’s 3-4 scheme. Greg Gilmore will again man the nose tackle spot. The pass rush will get a big boost if Arden Key is healthy. Key tallied 12.0 sacks last season from the hybrid end/linebacker positions. There are some other questions at linebacker though with inside linebackers Duke Riley and Kendell Beckwith gone. Donnie Alexander, who recorded 45 tackles last season, will step into one spot and the expectations for sophomore Devin White are very high. Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver are very talented cornerbacks and John Battle returns to the free safety spot, but a handful of underclassmen will push for playing time as well.
The Bottom Line:
LSU should have a great defense and Guice will lead an offense that should be able to do enough to at least remain competitive against the tougher teams on the schedule. The schedule is quite unfriendly though with just three SEC home games. A four game stretch that includes trips to Florida and Alabama and a home date with Auburn will be the deciding games for the Tigers. If they can survive that stretch with a 2-2 record or better, a ten win season would be very possible. However, the offense is probably not ready to seriously challenge Alabama for an SEC title quite yet.
Projected Bowl: Orange Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 233.0 (21st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 190.1 (101, 12)
Total Offense: 423.1 (59, 9)
Scoring Offense: 28.3 (68, 10)
Rushing Defense: 117.3 (13, 2)
Pass Defense: 197.2 (23, 3)
Total Defense: 314.4 (10, 3)
Scoring Defense: 15.8 (5, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (67, 9)
Sacks: 3.00 (14, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.58 (32, 4)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#8 Arden Key
#41 Derrius Guice
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#21      JaCoby Stevens
#37      Austin Deculus
#43      Tyler Shelvin
#48      K'Lavon Chaisson
#69      Kary Vincent Jr.
#72      Grant Delpit
#105    Jacob Phillips
#110    Todd Harris
#126    Edward Ingram
#133    Myles Brennan