#8 LSU Football 2019 Preview

LSU Tigers
Overall Rank: #8
#3 SEC
 LSU Logo
As always, LSU heads into the 2019 season with high expectations. They are coming off a ten-win season, including victories over Georgia and UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. There is a lot of excitement in Baton Rouge over the hire of former New Orleans Saints passing game coordinator Joe Brady. The excitement over Brady’s hire is a byproduct of the fact that college football fans could actually see the Tigers dump their stone age power running game and move forward into a more 21st century offensive scheme utilizing the run pass option.
2018 Record: 10-3, 5-3
2018 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF (40-32 W)
Coach: Ed Orgeron (25-9 at LSU, 41-36 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Emsinger
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Aranda
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, 658 yards
Passing: Joe Burrow, QB, 2,894 yards
Receiving: Justin Jefferson, WR, 875 yards
Tackles: Jacob Phillips, MLB, 87
Sacks: Grant Delpit, SS, 5.0, Michael Divinity Jr., F-LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Grant Delpit, SS, 5.0
Other Key Returnees:  WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Derrick Dillon, LT Sadiq Charles, C Lloyd Cosenberry III, RG Damien Lewis, RT Austin Deculus, DE Glen Logan, DE Breiden Fehoko, DE Rashard Lawrence, CB Christian Fulton, CB Kary Vincent Jr., K Avery Atkins, P Zach Von Rosenberg
Key Losses: LB Devin White, CB Greedy Williams, K Cole Tracy, RB Nick Brosette, TE Foster Moreau
Joe Burrow is a pretty good place to start if you are going to run more RPO’s and the Saints offense in general. Burrow threw sixteen touchdown passes and just five interceptions and he also rushed for 399 yards in 2018. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and incoming freshman John Emery Jr. should pick up the slack between the two of them for the lost production of Nick Brosette. Justin Jefferson was the primary go-to receiver for Burrow last season as he caught 54 passes for 875 yards and six touchdowns. Stephen Sullivan, Ja’Marr Chase, Derrick Dillon, and Terrance Marshall round a deep wide receiver position group that should see their stats increase with this new offensive scheme. The offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting the quarterback as they allowed 2.69 sacks per game last season. Center Lloyd Cosenberry III and Right Guard Damien Lewis are back to anchor an experienced group up front that will be under pressure to produce quickly this season.
Rashard Lawrence and Grant Delpit will be the leaders of this LSU defense as both guys could easily have left for the NFL after last season. Lawrence will be a force coming off the edge at defensive end and, if he is recovered from his knee surgery, should be a first-round draft pick in 2020. Delpit is an all-around playmaker that should be in the mix for every major national defensive back of the year award. Delpit collected five sacks and had nine pass deflections and be able to match or surpass those numbers in 2019. Jacob Phillips and Michael Divinity Jr. will lead the linebacker room as Phillips has a good nose for the football after collecting 87 tackles. Michael Divinity Jr. is a more of a pass rusher type as he picked up five sacks in 2018. Replacing Cole Tracy at kicker will not be easy as made 29 of 33 field goals and set multiple school records. Freshman Cade York will be the next man up to take over placekicks and take control of the job.
The Bottom Line:
A trip to Austin to take on Texas in week two will be an outstanding litmus test for the Tigers as that will be a battle of two top ten caliber teams. Utah State will be a good non-conference stress test for the LSU defense prior to playing Florida the following week. On November 9th, the Tigers will hit the road to play Alabama and they will look to atone for a 29-0 loss at home in Baton Rouge last November. This game will be the turning point for the offense and Coach Orgeron because they can’t be ultra-conservative against the Crimson Tide. It just simply doesn’t work at this time. Overall, LSU should end up winning ten games and earn a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.6 (59th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 228.5 (67, 7)
Total Offense: 402.1 (69, 9)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (38, 7)
Rushing Defense: 138.6 (34, 7)
Pass Defense: 200.1 (38, 6)
Total Defense: 338.7 (25, 5)
Scoring Defense: 21.8 (26, 7)
Turnover Margin: +0.92 (7, 1)
Sacks: 2.62 (34, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.69 (102, 13)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#10 Grant Delpit
#16 Kristian Fulton
#75 Saahdiq Charles
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#5 Derek Stingley Jr
#15 John Emery
#39 Marcel Brooks
#53 Kardell Thomas
#77 Trey Palmer
#138 Siaki Ika
#143 Maurice Hampton
#147 Anthony Bradford
#167 Tyrion Davis
#177 Devonta Lee
#185 Donte Starks