#23 LSU 2018 Football Preview

LSU Tigers
Overall Rank: #23
#5 SEC
 LSU Logo
LSU had a roller coaster ride of a 2017 season as the Tigers started the season 3-2 with losses to Mississippi State and Troy at home. Head Coach Ed Orgeron and his staff steadied the ship and LSU finished the season winning seven out of their last nine and they nearly beat Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. Looking ahead to the 2018 season the schedule is difficult, but if they can get some stability on offense then they will be an extremely competitive team all year long.
2017 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2017 Bowl: Citrus Bowl vs. Notre Dame (17-21 L)
Coach: Ed Orgeron (15-6 at LSU, 31-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Ensminger
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Aranda
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nick Brosette, RB, 96 yards
Passing: Myles Brennan, QB, 182 yards
Receiving: Foster Moreau, TE, 278 yards
Tackles: Devin White, OLB, 133
Sacks: Devin White, OLB, 4.5
Interceptions: Greedy Williams, CB, 6
Other Key Returnees:  WR Stephen Sullivan, LT Saahdiq Charles, LG Garrett Brumfield, RG Ed Ingram, DE Rashard Lawrence, S John Battle, S Grant Delpit, CB Jontre Kirklin
Key Losses:  CB Donte Jackson, RB Derrius Guice, WR DJ Chark, DE Arden Key, WR Russell Gage, QB Danny Etling, C Will Clapp
Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger takes over for Matt Canada who had a tumultuous one year in Baton Rouge. Quarterback continues to be a problem for the Tigers as they need to find that difference maker that can take over a game. Myles Brennan, for the time being, appears to be the favorite but he is going to be pushed by Lowell Narcisse, Justin McMillan and Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow. Running back is a position that does not return that bonafide top NFL draft pick caliber of player this season. Derrius Guice was drafted in the second round by the Washington Redskins in the 2018 NFL Draft so now the door is wide open for others to step up. Nick Brosette carried the ball 19 times for 96 yards in limited action last season. Jonathan Giles is a Texas Tech transfer that should take over as the top wide receiver target for the Tigers. Giles is an excellent playmaker with a knack for finding the end zone. The offensive line returns three starters, led by senior left guard Garrett Brumfield, and should benefit from running a more conventional pro-style offense.
LSU paid defensive coordinator Dave Aranda $10 million over four years to keep him away from Texas A&M. The Tigers were 12th in the nation in total defense last season as they limited teams to just 316 yards per game. Devin White is the leading returning tackler with 133 and should be able to put another big season together as he also averaged 10.2 tackles per game. Greedy Williams is a prototypical shutdown corner that can cut the field in half with his ability to limit top opposing wide receivers. The pass rush is going to be interesting to watch as someone will need to step up and bring heat off the edge. Rashard Lawrence is a junior defensive end that has the potential to be elite and it will be interesting to see how he responds this fall. Breiden Fehoko is another Texas Tech transfer that could provide a quality pass rush at defensive end. Ed Alexander and Tyler Shelvin will look the control things in the middle at nose tackle.
Bottom Line:
The Tigers will play Miami in Dallas to start off the 2018 season. This game will be a critical tone setter for the 2018 season as the Hurricanes defensively will challenge this inexperienced offense. Week three will send LSU to Auburn to start off the SEC schedule. Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss round out the opening month of the season. The goal for the Tigers should be a 3-2 start at minimum, if not 4-1 if they can steal the opener against Miami. A four-game stretch starting on October 6th at Florida is going to define the 2018 season for LSU. This stretch will include games against Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama after the game in Gainesville. The Tigers need to somehow find a way to go 2-2 in those four games. If LSU can get slightly above average play at quarterback, then they have a shot to go 8-4 despite having such a tough schedule.
Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 207.6 (28th in nation, 5th in Conference)
Passing Offense: 203.5 (84, 8)
Total Offense: 411.1 (54, 7)
Scoring Offense: 27.2 (76, 9)
Rushing Defense: 128.4 (24, 3)
Pass Defense: 187.6 (21, 6)
Total Defense: 316.0 (12, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.7 (34, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (16, 3)
Sacks: 2.71 (24, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.14 (12, 3)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#10 Andraez Williams
#18 Devin White
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#14 Terrance Marshall Jr.
#37 Kelvin Joseph
#96 JaMarr Chase
#225 Cole Smith