LSU didn’t do anything out of the ordinary last season and that was the main problem as it finished third in the SEC West with a 9-4 overall record. It wasn’t a bad season, but it also wasn’t great and Ed Orgeron expects more. That’s why Steve Ensminger is now the coordinator to get the offense rolling after 27.2 points per Game in 2017. Ensminger, who has had various roles with LSU since 2010, is incorporating a shotgun-heavy, no-huddle spread offense.
That sounds potent on the surface, but the Tigers still had a long way to go in deciding a quarterback after the spring. With Danny Etling gone, the competition was between three guys in last year’s backup Myles Brennan, redshirt junior Justin McMillan and redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse. All of them showed something in the spring, but also still had plenty of learning in the new offense. It doesn’t help that LSU lost eight of its starters with an entire core of new skill players needed. Wide out Justin Jefferson was the talk of the spring due to some highlight-worthy plays, but he’s still young. Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles is expected to be the receiver on the other side after he had 1,158 yards and 13 TDs two seasons ago. Running back is also a huge question with the top two guys gone, which means there will be inexperience there with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Nick Brossette the favorites. The offensive line didn’t have a great spring, but in a new offense that’s not surprising. The group still could be an area of concern and the running Game likely won’t be as good as prior years without Derrius Guice.
Of course, the offensive line struggled in the scrimmage due to a dominant defensive front. The Tigers are stocked with pass rushers and playmakers in the front seven. From linebacker Devin Wright to Tyler Shelvin and K’LAvon Chaisson up front, the Tigers should control the line of scrimmage against most opponents. They continually got to the QB in spring practices and that’s par for the course for coordinator Dave Aranda, who is in his third season as defensive coordinator. The secondary should have enough tools to keep the defense as one of the best in the country after allowing 18.8 points per Game last season. Greedy Williams is one of the best corners in the SEC and LSU also added former Stanford corner Terrence Alexander in the spring. With a top group up front and at least one elite corner, this group is set.
That’s good news because defense will be needed early on with the Game against Miami and then a trip to Auburn only a couple weeks into the season. If the Tigers want at chance of taking the SEC, they may have to upset Auburn on the road for that to happen. Of course, beating Alabama is also close to a must and that Game comes at home. Those guys stand out, but nothing is easy on LSU’s Schedule from the trips to Florida and Texas A&M to the Game against Georgia in the middle of the season.
If the offense can figure things out early, LSU could be headed for 10 wins, or nine at the least in the regular season. If there are learning issues with a new quarterback and new system, that could mean another good year, but nothing outstanding. The defense can compete with some of the best in the SEC, but that may not matter if the offense doesn’t have things figured out on Sept. 1 against the Hurricanes. Coming out of the spring, the Tigers had +3600 odds to win the National Championship (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), 14th-best in the country, behind Alabama and Auburn in the West.
2018 LSU Tigers Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Miami (AT&T Stadium, Arlington)
Sept. 8 vs. SE Louisiana
Sept. 15 at Auburn
Sept. 22 vs. Louisiana Tech
Sept. 29 vs. Ole Miss
Oct. 6 at Florida
Oct. 13 vs. Georgia
Oct. 20 vs. Mississippi State
Nov. 3 vs. Alabama
Nov. 10 at Arkansas
Nov. 17 vs. Rice
Nov. 24 at Texas A&M