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2018 College Football Preview: Lindy's Sports

Lindy's Top Ten

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Georgia
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Miami (FL)
  8. Washington
  9. Auburn
  10. Michigan State

SEC teams in the top 25: 20 Mississippi State, 24 South Carolina

2018 College Football Playoff Predictions

  • Orange Bowl: Clemson vs Georgia
  • Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs Ohio State

LSU is ranked #30. (The issue went to press before QB Joe Burrow transferred from Ohio State.)
Among the Top 12 Conference Games, Lindy's ranks Georgia @ LSU (Oct. 13) #5.

In Lindy's projection of the top 5 seniors at each position for the 2019 NFL Draft, LSU's Garrett Brumfield is listed third at OG.

Lindy's Coaches on the Hot Seat

  1. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (30-33, five seasons)
  2. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (18-31 in four seasons)
  3. David Beaty, Kansas (3-33 in three seasons)
  4. Kalani Sitake, Brigham Young (13-13 in two seasons0
  5. Lovie Smith, Illinois (5-19, two seasons)

Lindy's top 12 non-QB transfers includes #2 Jonathan Giles WR (Texas Tech to LSU)

Lindy's lists the Top 5 schools in 2018 recruiting by position. LSU is #1 at WR with these four signees, all from Louisiana:
Terrace Marshall 6-2 1/2, 195 Boosier City Parkway
JaMarr Chase 6-1, 195 Archbishop Rummel
Kenan Jones 6-3, 205 Berwick High
Jaray Jenkins 6-1, 175 Jena High

Under "Coordinator Shuffle" in the SEC section, Lindy's lists the five it finds "interesting."

3. Steve Ensminger, LSU O coordinator. The Tigers parted ways with high-priced Matt Canada after one seasons, despite high hopes that he would rejuvenate the offense. Ensminger has the trust of Ed Orgeron to take off the training wheels on the LSU attack ... but first he has to find a QB. (This was before Barrow transferred.)

LSU D-Coordinator Dave Aranda is listed #1 in the "Coaches on the Rise."
LSU ranked 12th nationally in total defense, and that was the worst ranking for an Aranda-coached defense in his five seasons at Power 5 schools. Texas A&M made a big push for Aranda in the offseason, but he opted to remain at LSU after signing a reported four-year, $10 million contract. It would be a major surprise if he were not a head coach somewhere before that deal expired.

Excerpts from the LSU article.
In an effort to rekindle its stodgy offense, LSU has turned to yesteryear in hopes that past success can translate into future accomplishments. And so, Steve Ensminger steps into a precarious situation as offensive coordinator, knowing full well his predecessor lasted only one bumpy ride of a season.
Last season's new coordinator Matt Canada spent much of the year at odds with coach Ed Orgeron, while Ensminger, as the TE coach, kept his distance. "Last year I was hesitant because it wasn't my offense," he said. "I knew I could call it. I just had to tweak some things. I was really hesitant to do it. I have a year now. It's my offense."
That sits well with Orgeron ... In fact, Orgeron wanted Ensminger to take the position permanently. Instead, Ensminger returned to coaching TEs, which he had been doing since 2010.
That all changed after the much-ballyhooed hire of Canada went awry amid his multiple shifts and movements that served as so much window dressing for the kind of run-heaving offense that hastened Miles's departure. ...
Now Ensminger's being asked to work the same kind of wonders he did in 2016, when he revitalized an attack that was averaging 18.0 points and 335.9 points per game. Under Ensminger, LSU dramatically improved in every offensive category and upped its average to 32 points and 464.9 ypg. ...
LSU must replace its entire backfield, including QB Danny Etling and RB Derrius Guice, who between them accounted for 3,714y and 31 TDs ...
Orgeron remains undaunted, convinced he has found "the best coach to lead LSU's offense in the next coming years." ...
With all due respect to Georgia's Butkus Award-winning and first-round ILB Roquan Smith, no one played the middle better in 2017 than White, who finished just four tackles behind his SEC rival despite playing two fewer games. White was LSU's best player as a true sophomore, more than doubling up LSU's next closest defender with 133 overall tackles, including 14 for loss and 4.5 sacks. ...

Anonymous opposing coaches on LSU
On Ed Orgeron: Who knows what Ed Orgeron is doing? I love Ed, but the chaos he's created on offense is a problem. He got rid of a pretty good offensive coordinator, they lose two NFL RBs and four offensive linemen, and Steve Ensminger is going to lead them to the promised land? I think some people in Baton Rouge are waiting for Orgeron to fail.
On state of program: LSU doesn't have the talent or the depth they used to have. I'm not sure what's happened in recruiting, but they've lost some really good players to out-of-state schools. And they've been hit hard by losing a lot of players in recent years early to the NFL draft. That's taken a toll.
On this season: At LSU, if they get eight wins, don't try to spin it like it's a good year, not while the guy in Tuscaloosa is winning 12 or 13.

LSU Players on Lindy's Preseason All-America Team
First team defense – LB Devin White (#1 ranked OLB)
First team defense – CB Greedy Williams (#1 ranked CB)

Lindy's gives the story of how Williams got his nickname:
His mother came to pick up the 2-month-old Williams from his aunt after her babysitting stint. The aunt remarked that Williams was a "Greedy Deedy" because he had consumed two to three bottles of baby formula. Williams' mother liked the term, dropped Deedy ... and from that point on Andraez gave way to Greedy.
Lindy's SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  1. Alabama
  2. Auburn
  3. Mississippi State
  4. Texas A&M
  5. LSU
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Arkansas
  1. Georgia
  2. South Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. Missouri
  5. Kentucky
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vanderbilt

LSU players on Lindy's All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team defense
    LB Devin White, CB Greedy Williams
  • 3rd team offense
    OL Garrett Brumfield
    P Zach Von Rosenberg
Lindy's SEC Unit Rankings for LSU
QB - 14 (pre-Burrow)
RB - 11
WR/TE - 12
OL - 6

DL - 5
LB - 3
DB - 2
ST - 11

The only national ranking for an LSU unit is DBs #8.

By the Numbers
9
Places among the 16 in the four College Football Playoffs that have been held so far that have been taken by teams coached by Nick Saban, Dabo Sweeney, and Urban Meyer
5 of 7
Top QBs in the 2014 247Sports composite recruiting rankings who have left their original schools. A sixth QB moved to receiver at his school.
8
Number of LSU players on the NCAA consensus All-American squad the last nine seasons.
30
Number of Alabama players on the NCAA consensus All-American squad the last nine seasons.
26
SEC players who declared early for the 2018 NFL draft
6
Number of LSU players who left early, most in the conference.
11 Early NFL entrants LSU has lost the last two years.
32 Early NFL entrants from LSU the last six years, the most of any team in the nationby eight.
4/4 O coordinators/QB coaches Jalen Hurts has had in his two years at Alabama
0 SEC games that Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and the four offensive assistants and one defensive assistant he brought with him from SMU
1 FBS assistant coaches who have made more than $2M in a season - LSU's Dave Aranda
27/29 FGs made by PK Cole Tracy, who is at LSU now, last season at Division II Assumption College in MA. Included were two games in each of which he kicked six FGs.

Interesting Quotations
Anonymous opposing coaches size up LSU's SEC opponents for '18

  • Alabama
    On the offense: He changed offensive coordinators and I think that will really help because Mike Locksley is more tuned into running the offense Nick wants. Brian Daboll was a drop-bacy guy. Locksley is a run-pass option guy. This will be the job that gets Locksley a head job. The guy is sharp.
    On the QBs: Saban's got a QB issue. It's not a bad issues because he's got two good players, but he's got to get a resolution that works for him and the team ... You have to design an offense to help Hurts. He's got a different skill set than Tua. Hurts is unbelievable. He's a hard guy to beat because of what he can do with his feet. They've got talent and a damn good offensive line for what they want to do - and that is to push you around and win in the fourth quarter.
  • Arkansas
    On new head coach: Chad Morris saved Dabo Swinney's job at Clemson. Dabo was kind of floundering and he broke Chad in (as offensive coordinator), had a big win in the Orange Bowl and off Clemson went. It will be interesting to see how Morris does with the talent he has. Bret Bielema recruited a certain guy for his offensive mindset and I'm not sure how it translates into Chad's mindset. ... Other than Tennessee, Arkansas probably is least talented team in the league relative to expectations.
  • Auburn
    On Gus Malzahn: Auburn is paying Gus $49 million over seven years and he underachieved again. If Nick Saban had Auburn's talent, he'd have won national championships the last two years. Auburn had the best front seven in college ball last year, but the offense sometimes disappears. If Gus would leave (O coordinator) Chip Lindsey alone, Auburn would be more explosive. Instead, they lost to Central Florida(in the Peach Bowl) and got the crap kicked out of them by Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, after beating Georgia a few weeks before. And they give him a new contract? For what? Mediocrity.
    On QB Jarrett Stidham: He is really good. He put up some big numbers last year, but he's more of a drop-back passwer. He doesn't need to run much zone read.
  • Mississippi State
    On the QB: Nick Fitzgerald is one of the best QBs in the SEC, if he can stay healthy. He's a good passer and a deceivingly good runner ... He's the trigger man behind a really good offense. But I don't know if he'll be as effective under Joe Moorhead as he was under Dan Mullen.
    On the state of the program: Mullen left the cupboard loaded. In fact, State probably has the third-best talent in the West behind Alabama and Auburn. ... DT Jeffery Simmons can be one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the SEC. He's a sure-fire first-round draft pick. I'd be surprised if State doesn't win nine games. They'll be a tough out for every team in the SEC, including Alabama and Auburn.
  • Ole Miss
    On coach Matt Luke: Ole Miss made the right decision keeping Matt Luke, but he's got to fix the defense. They've gone from Land Sharks to shushi-grade tuna. The D coordinator (Wesley McGriff) is a good guy, well respected, but I don't think he's a guy to run the ship. I don't think they're very talented no defense. They've got as bad a defense as anybody in the league.
    On the offense: They've got a new QB (Jordan Ta'amu) who put up good numbers after Shea Patterson was hurt. And they might have the best set of WRs in the league.
  • Texas A&M
    On Jimbo Fisher: Any time you've got somebody that scores points like Jimbo Fisher, you better watch out. He can score points. Your defense plays to the offense's personality. Jimbo's offenses are physical and tough. I know they'll practice more physical than with Kevin Sumlin. That alone will make them better. Jimbo is a hard-nosed guy, he ain't no foo-foo guy. He coaches QBs like some people coach defensive linemen. That will translate into some positives.
    On new D coordinator Mike Elko, most recently at Notre Dame: I never thought Notre Dame played great defense. I watched the first half of A&M's spring game and I though the defense sucked.
  • Florida
    On the program: I don't think Florida is as talented as they've been. I think Dan Mullen did a great job at Mississippi State. But the thing about Florida is, it's a pressure cooker and a seven- or eight-win season in The Swamp will get your ass fired. They don't give a damn what the problems are. You better win.
    On new coach Dan Mullen: I don't know if Mullen can fix the QB problem. He did a helluva job at State with Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald. I'm not betting against him. He'll get better talent at Florida than he had at Mississippi State. What does that equate to in terms of wins and losses? I don't know. Florida fans hope he brings back the production they had when Mullen(as OC at Florida) had Tim Tebow. Since Tebow left, Florida hasn't been worth a crap on offense.
  • Georgia
    On the QB situation: If Jake Fromm doesn't improve, you can blame Kirby Smart for moving (QB coach and O coordinator) Jim Chaney to TE. Chaney did a helluva job with Fromm last year. But Kirby Smart is a mad scientist. He has to experiment.
    On the defense: I don't think Georgia took that big of a hit on defense. They lost (LB) Roquan Smith but the rest of those guys were OK players; they weren't superstars. I ain't buying that they lost that much on defense.
    On the RBs: Nobody's going to match the tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but D'Andre Swift is special. He has size, speed, a burst, vision, hands, toughness. And they've got Elijah Holyfield and they signed a great RB (Zamir White). I'm not sleeping on Georgia. They've still got players.
Saints-Cardinals
I attended the Saints second preseason game Friday night. Some observations:
  1. If Drew Brees is hurt this season, the Saints are finished for the playoffs. Tom Savage is the worst backup in the Sean Payton era.
  2. Jonathan Williams looks like a serviceable replacement for Mark Ingram as he serves his suspension for the first four games.
  3. The new rule requiring the kickoff team to line up only one yard behind the kickoff spot is producing longer returns. That modifies the conclusion that Brandon Tate and Boston Scott will be an upgrade in the return game that can obviate using Alvin Kamara in that role.
  4. Will Clapp of Brother Martin/LSU played the entire second half. He was at RG for Q3 and C for Q4. I kept the binoculars on him for most plays. Not once did the defender he was blocking (often as a double-team) make a tackle or pressure the QB. Several times he threw the key block that sprang the ball carrier through the hole for a good game. His ability to play both positions should stand him in good stead come final cutdown time.
Questions from PFRA Quiz Bowl - 5
Here are more questions from the Quiz Bowl contest I conducted at the Professional Football Researchers Association meeting in Buffalo last month.

Which team's most rabid fans occupy a section of the home stadium called “The Black Hole?”

  1. Cincinnati Bengals
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Green Bay Packers legend Curly Lambeau played college football for one year, 1918. What school did he play for?

  1. Michigan
  2. Minnesota
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Wisconsin

Who was the last non-quarterback to win the Associate Press’s NFL MVP award?

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LaDanian Tomlinson
  3. J.J. Watt
  4. Charles Woodson

Four of the first five picks in the 1989 draft are in the Hall of Fame – Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. Who was the bust?

  1. Aundray Bruce
  2. Jeff George
  3. Tony Mandarich
  4. Broderick Thomas

Which team ran the “Red Gun” offense under Head Coach Jerry Glanville from 1990-93?

  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Houston Oilers

More Pro Football Hall of Famers have been born in   ?   than any other state.

  1. Florida
  2. Ohio
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Texas
New Baseball Hall of Famers - 2
Facts and quotes about the other three recent Cooperstown inductees.
By the Numbers
14 Consecutive opening day starts by Jack Morris, a major league record.
12 Seasons in which Morris won 15 or more games.
2,444.2 Innings Morris pitched in the 1980s to lead all pitchers in that decade
162 Morris's wins in the 1980s, most in MLB
120 Walks by Jim Thome in 1997 to lead the American League
13.76 Thome's at-bats per HR, which ranks fifth all-time
6 Number of seasons in which Thome had 40+ HRs, 100+ RBI, and 100+ walks, which ranks him third all time behind Babe Ruth (10) and Barry Bonds (7)
.343 Alan Trammell's BA in 1987, a season in which he hit 28 HRs and drove in 105, the first time in MLB history a SS had at least a .340 BA, 25 HRs, and 100 RBI.
1934 Last season before 1987 that a Detroit SS, Billy Rogell, drove in 100 runs in a season
1955 Last season before 1987 that a Detroit player, Al Kaline, had 200 hits and 100 RBI in the same season
Quotations
Jack Morris
  • If it was the 25th inning, I think Jack would still be out there. They would have to drag him off the mound. Twins teammate Kent Hrbek following Morris's 10-inning shutout of the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series
  • ... the righty built a brilliant resumé that featured 254 wins, including 12 seasons that saw him win 15 or more games ... And he did it all in the American League in the era of the DH, becoming the first pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame who never faced a regular-season lineup in which a pitcher batted. Memories and Dreams: The Official Magazine of the Hall of Fame
Jim Thome
  • I told Jim, not only are you in baseball's Hall of Fame, but if they had a Hall of Fame for people, you'd be in that, too. Cleveland President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti
Alan Trammell
  • Nobody played the game with more respect. Former Tigers manager Phil Garner
  • His technique of getting to the ball was flawless; the throw was right where it needed to be. It was beautiful to behold. Jack Morris
2018 College Football Preview: Athlon Sports

Athlon's Top Ten

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Michigan
  6. Miami (FL)
  7. Auburn
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma

SEC teams in the top 25: 14 Mississippi State, 17 Florida, 25 Texas A&M

2018 College Football Playoff Predictions

  • Orange Bowl: Clemson vs Georgia
  • Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs Ohio State

LSU is ranked #26. (The issue went to press before QB Joe Burrow transferred from Ohio State. In the section on "QB Battles," Athlon projected Myles Brennan as the winner.)
The Tigers are projected to go 7-5 (4-4 SEC) and meet TCU in the Texas Bowl.

In Lindy's Top Ten Unit Rankings, LSU is #6 in LBs and #7 in DBs.

Athlon asked each of its editors to answer some questions.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

  1. David Beaty, Kansas (3-33 in three seasons)
  2. Bob Davie, New Mexico (30-45 in six seasons)
  3. Brad Lambert, Charlotte (17-41, five seasons)
  4. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina (6-18, two seasons)
  5. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green (6-18, two seasons)
  6. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (30-33, five seasons)
  7. Lovie Smith, Illinois (5-19, two seasons)

Ed Orgeron is not listed even in the "Getting Warm" section, which includes Derek Mason of Vanderbilt.

LSU D-Coordinator Dave Aranda is listed #1 in the "Coaches on the Rise."
LSU ranked 12th nationally in total defense, and that was the worst ranking for an Aranda-coached defense in his five seasons at Power 5 schools. Texas A&M made a big push for Aranda in the offseason, but he opted to remain at LSU after signing a reported four-year, $10 million contract. It would be a major surprise if he were not a head coach somewhere before that deal expired.

Ranking 2017's New Coaches
Ed Orgeron
is ranked #12, right behind Ole Miss's Matt Luke. Here's the writeup for Orgeron:
LSU's 2017 season will always be remembered for the loss at home to Troy, but the Tigers managed to win nine games and went 6-2 in the SEC, their best mark since 2012. This program continues to have issues on offense, however, and the Matt Canada experiment lasted only one season. Steve Ensminger will call the plays this year - much to the dismay of the Tiger faithful.

Ranking 2018's New Coaches

  1. Scott Frost, Nebraska
  2. Chip Kelly, UCLA
  3. Dan Mullen, Florida
  4. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
  5. Willie Taggart, Florida State
  6. Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State
  7. Chad Morris, Arkansas
  8. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona
  9. Steve Campbell, South Alabama
  10. Mario Cristobal, Oregon
  11. Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
  12. Billy Napier, LA Lafayette

Only three SEC coaches have been at their current school for at least five seasons.
Who are they?

Top Coordinator Hires for 2018
1. Mike Elko, DC Texas A&M
New Texas A&M coach Texas A&M lured Texas A&M away from Notre Dame to fix an area that has plagued this program since it joined the SEC. The Aggies have not once finished in the top half of the league in total defense and have ranked no higher than seventh in scoring defense.
3. Todd Grantham, DC Florida
Grantham is making the move from Mississippi State to Florida with new Gator head coach Dan Mullen. Grantham did a tremendous job in his only season in Starkville; the Bulldogs made dramatic improvements in total defense ... and scoring defense ...
6. Pete Golding, Co-DC Alabama
Nick Saban plucked Golding, a rising star in the coaching world, off of the UTSA staff as Alabama's 10th assistant and give him the title of co-defensive coordinator and inside LBs coach. During his two years at UTSA, the Roadrunners ranked first and fourth in Conference USA in total defense and first and third in scoring defense.

QB Transfers to/from SEC schools
Woody Barrett, Auburn to Kent State (via JC)
Keller Chryst, Stanford to Tennessee
Shea Patterson, Ole Miss to Michigan
Terry Wilson, Oregon to Kentucky

Breakout Players among the 15 listed that play for SEC schools
LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Athlon asked each of its editors to answer some questions.

Which team not in our preseason top 10 has the best chance to make the College Football Playoff?

  1. Mitch Light
    This is not a vintage Florida State team, but it wouldn't shock me if the Seminoles jumped back into the national discussion in Year 1 of the Willie Taggart era. The schedule is not kind ... but few teams nationally will have more talent than Florida State.
  2. Braden Gall
    Texas is my pick because the Big 12 champion will have a good opportunity to get into the Playoff, and the Longhorns could have a high-quality non-conference win as USC comes to town early in the season. If the QB position stabilizes, Texas could still lose a league game and make a surprise trip to the four-team tournament.
  3. Steven Lassan
    I'm going to take the Big Ten tandem just outside of our top 10 in Michigan State and Penn State. The Big Ten has five teams ranked inside of our top 12 for 2018, and the winner of this conference should be in the mix for a playoff spot.

Which top-10 team scares you the most? Which team do you think we might have over-ranked?

  • Mitch Light
    Miami. The Canes were one of the surprise teams in the nation in 2017, winning their first 10 games and climbing to the No. 2 spot in the CFB Playoff Rankings. This was a good team, but it was also a team that won a bunch of close games and was probably never as good as its ranking. ... They should be better this season, but until Mark Richt figures out the QB situation ... it's fair to question whether this is a legit top-10 team.
  • Steven Lassan
    I don't think Auburn is significantly over-ranked, but I could see coach Gus Malzahn's team slipping just outside of the top 10. Jarrett Stidham is one of the best in the SEC, and he's surrounded by a capable group of playmakers on the outside. However, the offensive line will be revamped after losing four starters - as well as position coach Herb Hand, who went to Texas. That's a huge concern with matchups against Washington, Mississippi State, Georgia, LSU and Alabama.
  • Braden Gall
    Ohio State is my choice. [This was before Urban Meyer's suspension.] The Buckeyes may or may not have a replacement for QB J.T. Barrett and definitely have one of the toughest league schedules in the country. The could ... win the Big Ten and still miss the playoff because of multiple losses.

Who was the best hire of the offseason?

  • All three writers chose Scott Frost of Nebraska.

What was the most puzzling hire?

  • Mitch Light and Steven Lassan
    Herm Edwards. Light: I've been at Athlon Sports for 17 years and have written about the new coaches in the magazine every year, and I have never been more perplexed by a hire than Arizona States decision to hire Edwards.
  • Braden Gall
    It's Jeremy Pruitt. A guy who was likely outside the top-15 candidates when the search started is now the head coach at Tennessee ... He might be just the right blend of coaching talent and work ethic - or could he have no idea what it takes to be a big-time SEC head coach at a powerhouse institution.

Name three Group of 5 head coaches who will be in Power 5 jobs next season.

  • Mitch Light
    Neal Brown of Troy, Seth Littell of North Texas, Jason Candle of Toledo.
  • Steven Lassan
    Neal Brown of Troy, Seth Littell of North Texas, and Scott Satterfield of Appalachian State
  • Braden Gall
    For the second year in a row, Bryan Harsin (Boise State) definitely has to be on this list. I'll also add Neal Brown of Troy and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State.

Give us a program on the rise.

  • Mitch Light
    I'm not sure what Iowa State's ceiling is, but I'm confident the Cyclones will be a factor in the Big 12 as long as Matt Campbell is at the school.
  • Steven Lassan
    I wouldn't expect a Big Ten West Division title in 2018, but Nebraska is clearly going in the right direction with Scott Frost at the controls.
  • Braden Gall
    Florida. Even as he was winning back-to-back SEC East titles, Jim McElwain never seemed to win over the fan base. Now, with Dan Mullen in charge, the Gator faithful finally believe this program can return to its spot among the elite in college football.

What about a program on the decline?

  • Steven Lassan
    LSU. It might be premature to put LSU in this space, but this program seems to be headed in the wrong direction compared to the rest of the SEC West.
  • Braden Gall
    LSU. While I am openly rooting for Coach O to succeed, he hasn't proven that he is capable of winning at a high level in Power 5 football. So the Tigers have questions at head coach and massive unknowns at QB (sound familiar?) as well as an offensive coordinator who feels like a Les Miles clone. With a roster that simply does not seem up to LSU standards and a brutal schedule, getting to a bowl game might be considered a solid season.
  • Mitch Light
    I'm not sure what Iowa State's ceiling is, but I'm confident the Cyclones will be a factor in the Big 12 as long as Matt Campbell is at the school.

Excerpts from the LSU article.
If you piled up the question marks about this 2018 LSU football team, they would form a rickety stack as high as the double-standard goalposts at either end of Tiger Stadium.
Who will be the QB? What will the offense look like? Who will run the ball? Who will be the CBs? Who, if anyone, can kick the ball consistently through Tiger Stadium's aforementioned uprights? ...
This is pretty much Orgeron's team now. The Tigers have only three remaining players - WR Dee Anderson, TE Foster Moreau and S Ed Paris - who started under Miles in 2016. ... Orgeron: I know next year is critical for us.
It appeared significant change was at hand entering the 2017 season, when Orgeron made Matt Canada his offensive coordinator. But Orgeron and Canada clashed personally - and Orgeron found Canada's misdirection and shifts intolerable. ... Orgeron and Ensminger are likely to be on the same page. Orgeron has made plain his desire to run the kind of offense USC employed when he was an assistant under Pete Carroll - a pro-style attack with play-action pass principles. Ensminger is prepared to give it to him. In fact, the Tigers may be poised to do something they haven't done in a long, long time: Use the pass to set up the run. ...
For the first time since at least 1974, LSU enters a season in which none if its returning RBs has scored a TD. ...
Jonathan Giles. Remember the name. Whoever plays QB will surely spend a lot of time throwing to the junior transfer, who had 69 catches for 1,158y and 13 TDs in 2016 at Texas Tech. Giles garnered so much respect so quickly he was awarded the No. 7 jersey, previously worn by such LSU greats as Fournette, Tyrann Mathieu and Bert Jones. ...
LSU is expected to get the benefit of Aranda's defensive scheme in full bloom for the first time in his three years at LSU. [We want to] let Dave run his total package, Orgeron says. He's been limited in some of the things he's done. I think you're going to see a Dave Aranda package that's going to be fantastic. Dave can be very multiple and very creative. We were very basic his first two years here. He wanted to get the fundamentals down. Aranda often joked last year that LSU had the best ineligible defensive line in the country with Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko at end and Tyler Shelvin (academics) at tackle. ...
LSU remains the most physical team in a physical conference. Only 54.1% of opponent tackles were solo tackles - the lowest rate in not only the SEC but the entire country. The national average was more than 20 percentage points higher at 74.2 percent.
(In 2017) With expectations off after a shaky 3-2 start, LSU quietly began overachieving. The Tigers beat the spread in each of the season's final seven games, winning six outright and outpacing their Vegas line by more than seven points per game. A big reason for this: turnovers. Their turnover margin was plus-1 in the first five games and plus-7 in the next seven.

Opposing coaches size up LSU
I like Ed. I really do. He can win there, and maybe he can develop into a guy that stays there a while. But he has to let his coaches coach. What he did with Matt Canada was ridiculous. You paid him all that money to get on board, and then a couple weeks into the season, you're bailing on him. ... The QB has been a problem there since Les first started out. ... If a rebuilt (offensive) line isn't a big enough question, who are they going to throw to, and who's going to run with power like they always have to keep pressure off the QB? ... Ensminger is your buy to run that show? That hire will define Ed, no question about it.

Quick Quiz: Who are the two SEC head coaches who were on Nick Saban's 2004 (last) staff at LSU?

LSU Players on Athlon's Preseason All-America Team
First team defense – LB Devin White
First team defense – CB Greedy Williams

SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  1. Alabama
  2. Auburn
  3. Mississippi State
  4. Texas A&M
  5. LSU
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Arkansas
  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. South Carolina
  4. Missouri
  5. Kentucky
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vanderbilt

LSU players on Athlon's All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team defense
    LB Devin White, CB Greedy Williams
  • 3rd team offense
    OL Garrett Brumfield
  • 3rd team defense
    DL Rashard Lawrence
SEC Unit Rankings for LSU
QB - 11 (pre-Burrow)
RB - 12
WR/TE - 11
OL - 6

DL - 6
LB - 6
DB - 3

The only national ranking for an LSU unit is DBs #8.

By the Numbers
35.4
Percent of Power 5 schools (23 of 65) whose current coach has been in place for at least five seasons
12
SEC teams with returning starters at QB
6
SEC teams (counting Ole Miss with interim Matt Luke becoming full-time) with new head coaches for 2018.
10
Consecutive years that Alabama has held the #1 ranking at some point in the season.
6
National championships for Nick Saban, more than the rest of the active FBS head coaching ranks combined
7
Consecutive seasons Alabama ranked #1 in the consensus recruiting rankings until this year when Georgia took the top spot
1 Seasons since 2000 in which Texas A&M achieved double-figure wins
2 Consecutive seasons in which Georgia's starting QB the previous year (Greyson Lambert then Jacob Eason) started the season opener, and then a true freshman (Eason, then Jake Fromm) took over in Week 2 and went the rest of the way.
2012 Last time LSU finished outside the consensus top-10 recruiting rankings before 2018.
$2M Amount Florida agreed to pay Colorado State for a game in Gainesville this season in expection that Jim McElwain would be coaching against his former team.
5 Defensive coordinators at Mississippi State the last five years.
2 Schools that have had a 1,000y rusher in each of the last nine seasons: Auburn and Boise State.
1987 Last season that Auburn defeated both Georgia and Alabama on the road.
1-5
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's record against Michigan State and Ohio State

Interesting Quotations
Anonymous opposing coaches size up LSU's SEC opponents for '18

  • Alabama
    If only we were all so lucky to have the problem Nick has: Two QBs with the talent to win it all. But I absolutely think he's going to have to manage that dual-QB problem like he never has had to. ... Nick will do what's best for the team, not what's best for the ego of either of the two players. ... The one thing that is more impressive than any with that program is the way they just reload with not only players but assistant coaches. ... They're losing a lot on defense; that front will be completely retooled. ... They've struggled in the secondary at times over the last three of four seasons and have given up some big plays. They gamble a lot - something you can do when you get after the QB like they do.
  • Arkansas
    I feel really bad for Chad (Morris), who has been put in a difficult situation. That roster was built for Bielema's run-first, play-action offense. Chad will spend at least the first two years turning over that roster to fit his scheme ... One thing Chad will benefit from is the way Bret ran a clean program. There won't be character problems in that locker room. ... New guys are there because the other guy failed. The other guy usually failed because he lost the team. Bret never lost that team. ... The best thing Chad will do for Arkansas - and I think he's a terrific Xs and Os guy - is recruit.
  • Auburn
    It took more than half the season, but Jarrett Stidham really turned into a legit SEC QB. ... it took time before Gus and his staff trusted him, and I guarantee he's going to take a huge step from where he was last season. ... Auburn surprised folks last year because they were so good on the lines of scrimmage. Will Muschamp was there for one year as defensive coordinator, but he made such an impact on the way Auburn recruited. He pushed the idea of building from the inside out, from the lines to the skill players. That's where Auburn is rightnow, that's why they will continue to grow under Gus. ... Gus' offense, for some reason, has been treated as a high-flyin', pass-happy offense. Gus' offense is based on power running, pure and simple.
  • Mississippi State
    I've heard about how Joe Moorhead doesn't know the Mississippi State "culture" or that he doesn't "understand the South." Come on. You know what every high school recruit and every mamma and daddy understand? Winning. You think Dan Mullen understood it when he first got there? He's from New Hampshire. ... Joe will put those kids in position to win on offense, and he made a critical hire at defensive coordinator (Bob Shoop), who knows how to recruit this league and how to defend it. ... I don't know if (QB) Nick Fitzgerald can be ready by August. That was a brutal injury.
  • Ole Miss
    I don't care what anyone says or how they try to spin it there, this is dead program walking. At least for a couple of years. They lost an elite QB and receiver because they didn't want to hang around for the NCAA fallout, and they're still dealing with that on the road in recruiting. ... The big thing right now is what happens with the NCAA. Once that gets resolved, you at least have a plan.
  • Texas A&M
    If Jimbo thinks the media was too harsh on him at FSU, wait until he finishes fourth again in the West. It's going to be a process there. ... To me, it just looked like those players weren't having fun on Saturdays and didn't take too well to coaching. That's what we talk about when we say a "culture change." Jimbo has a big one in front of him. ... It's not talent; they've got dudes on that team. Sometimes you just need to hear a different voice. Jimbo's will be unlike anything they've heard in a while there. He'll rattle some cages.
  • Florida
    Tennessee and Florida have some of the same problems. They have some good players, but they have made some mistakes - not so much from a talent perspective but from a character perspective. Player development is something they didn't do a great job of either. ... I don't know if Feleipe Franks is exactly what Dan Mullen wants at the QB position at Florida ... But I'm sure Dan will do a good job with him.
  • Georgia
    They took a huge leap last year. When they came on the field, you could tell that their bodies had changed from 2016 to 2017 - also their mindset and their confidence. ... I don't know that I've ever seen a team make the strides from one year to the next that Georgia did. I don't think that was a fluke by any stretch. ... I think it will be interesting this year, with what Fromm did last year, and then them bringing in Justin Fields, because some people believe Fields is a once-in-a-generation talent. I think that will be an interesting competition to watch in camp.
New Baseball Hall of Famers
Facts and quotes about the recent Cooperstown inductees.
By the Numbers
.363 Vladimir Guerrero's batting average the final 30 games of the 2004 season, during which he drove in 25 runs, scored 25, and hit 11 HRs as the Angels roared to the AL West title.
.550 Guerrero's batting average the last eight games of the '04 stretch run, during which the Angels went 7-1.
5 Players in history with at least 400 career HRs and fewer than 1,000 strikeouts - Guerrero, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott.
33 Saves in a row by Trevor Hoffman for the Padres to start the 1998 season.
53/54 Successful saves/opportunities by Hoffman in '98.
62-4 San Diego's record in games in which Hoffman pitched in '98 when they won the NL pennant.
601 Trevor's career saves, which ranked #1 when he retired after the 2010 season
2nd Hall of Famers, Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones, who were taken No. 1 in the MLB draft and have been elected to the Hall of Fame
1,600+ RBIs and runs scored by Chipper Jones, the only player to reach both those marks while playing at least 50% of his game at third base
9 Players in MLB history with at least 400 HRs, a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base %, and a .500 slugging percentage.
Quotations
Vladimir Guerrero
  • We'd try to pitch around him, but he'd hit doubles and homers. I remember thinking that this is one of the best players I've every seen. Former MLB OF Torii Hunter
  • To extend a pitch on him that he couldn't hit, you'd have to throw a pitch the catcher couldn't catch. Former Angels coach Mickey Hatcher
Trevor Hoffman
  • Once he perfected it, Hoffy's changeup was a Hall of Fame pitch. Former C Brad Ausmus
  • When Trevor was pitching, San Diego was rocking. Man, the memories of those nights. Former Padres manager Bruce Bochy
Chipper Jones
  • If he went 0-for-4 one night, he was in the cage hitting after the game. He seemed to just want it more than the rest of the hitters. Former teammate Greg Maddux
  • As talented a player as Chipper was, I felt like he beat you with his mind more than his physical tools. He simplified the game. Former teammate Mark DeRosa
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About This Site
This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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