2019 College Football Preview: Phil Steele

Steele's Top Ten

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Michigan
  4. Georgia
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Ohio State
  7. LSU
  8. Utah
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Florida

SEC teams in the top 25: 17 Texas A&M, 18 Auburn, 24 Mississippi State

Summary of #7 LSU:
"The Tigers were inexperienced, played a killer schedule, and came in just #25 with low expectations. They upset Miami, Auburn, and Georgia and finished 10-3 and #6. This year expectations are high and my Power Poll rates them the #4 team. LSU does have to travel to both Texas and Alabama. LSU has my #2 rated defense in the country and Joe Burrow will guide a much more potent offense. We have seen what Ed Orgeron can do with low expectations. Can they live up to 2019's larger expectations?"

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

LSU Unit Rankings
QB - 4, RB - 3, REC - 3, OL - 4, DL - 3, LB - 2, DB - 1, ST - 10

LSU is projected to have the #2 yards per game differential offense/defense in the SEC (behind Alabama) and the #3 points per game differential (behind Alabama and Georgia).

LSU players on Steele's All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team defense
    LB Jacob Phillips, CB Kristian Fulton, S Grant Delpit
  • 1st team special team
    LS Blake Ferguson
  • 2nd team offense
    WR Justin Jefferson
  • 2nd team defense
    DL Rashard Lawrence, LB Michael Divinity
  • 3rd team offense
    QB Joe Burrow, OL Damien Lewis
  • 3rd team defense
    LB Patrick Queen
  • 3rd team special team
    P Zach Von Rosenberg
  • 4th team defense
    DB Derek Stingley

National ranking for LSU's units:
QB 21, RB 25, Rec 10, OL 11, DL 6, LB 3, DB 1
Special teams not in top 57

Top Draft Eligible Players for 2020:
Joe Burrow #15 QB, Stephen Sullivan #17 TE, Lloyd Cushenberry #24 C, Ed Ingram #25 G, Saahdiq Charles #14 T, Breiden Fehoko #60 DE, Glen Logan #14 DT, Patrick Queen #3 OLB, K'Lavon Chaisson #5 OLB, Zach Von Rosenberg #6 P, Grant Delpit #1 SS, Blake Ferguson #3 LS

LSU had the #8 toughest schedule in 2018
Based on opponents' winning % from 2018, LSU has the #4 toughest 2019 schedule.
Based on 2019 projection, Steele ranks LSU's scheduled as sixth toughest.

On Steele's Experience Chart, LSU ranks #1 in the SEC
Based on a points system for All-Conference players returning and lost, LSU ranks #6 in the SEC.

In Steele's Power Ratings (not the same as his projected Top 40, which takes into account of schedule strength), LSU is #3 in the SEC behind Alabama and Georgia and #4 overall (with Clemson also ahead of them).

Not surprisingly, Steele ranks the SEC as the toughest conference for 2019 after they finished toughest in 2018.

Bowl Projection: LSU vs Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl

Excerpts from the LSU article.

Position Outlook for 2019
QBs: The Tigers installed new RPO's in the offseason and Orgeron wants more QB runs. Brennan will see more action but Burrow is not an experienced starter. This position is much improved and Burrow is no longer just a game manager so we will call for him to take a big step.
RBs: LSU should have a 7th straight 1,000y rusher and this unit is in much better shape despite losing their top guy.
Receivers: Last year LSU lost their top two two ... This year the top five return.
O-Line: With better health, this should be the most improved unit on the team.
LBs: They could be just as good even without their star [Devin White] as they have more experienced depth.
DBs: This is our #1 secondary in the nation.
Special Teams: They lose K Tracy but Connor Culp was 11-16 fg's in '17 and will compete with true frosh Cade York and this unit remains strong.

Phil's Forecast
Offense: LSU has 8 starters back and QB Burrow improved weekly. My computer is calling for a large jump this year to 37.1 ppg.
Defense: This year eight starters are back and they will be among the nation's best.
2019: LSU has a top 10 offense and defense and my Power Poll has them the #4 team in the country so they are a legitimate national title contender.

LSU Numbers
Consecutive home openers that LSU has won, winning by average score of 42-9
LSU's record against current CUSA foes (loss to Troy in 2017).
Last time LSU played Texas in Austin
Consecutive victories by LSU over in-state opponents
Record of the home teams in the last 19 meetings between LSU and Auburn
LSU's record against SEC East teams since 2004
9 Consecutive games against Alabama in which LSU has been held to 17 or fewer points
2019 College Football Preview: Lindy's

Lindy's Top Ten

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Michigan
  6. Florida
  7. Ohio State
  8. LSU
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Oregon

Other SEC teams in the top 25: 13 Texas A&M, 15 Auburn

Coaches on the Hot Seat

  1. Clay Helton, USC
  2. Willie Taggart, Florida State
  3. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  4. Chris Ash, Rutgers
  5. Lovie Smith, Illinois
  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Auburn
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Arkansas
  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Missouri
  4. South Carolina
  5. Kentucky
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vanderbilt

Top 12 Conference Games includes #6. Florida @ LSU October 12.
Top 12 Non-Conference Games includes #2. LSU @ Texas Sept. 7
(#1 is Notre Dame @ Georgia Sept. 21)

Sneak Peak at the 2019 NFL Draft lists the top five at each position. The only LSU player is #3 OLB Michael Divinity.

Lindy's All-America team includes one Tiger, Grant Delpit First Team Safety (yet he isn't listed among the top 5 strong or free safeties for the NFL Draft!)

Tigers in the top 25 national position ratings:
#23 QB - Joe Burrow
#8 DT - Rashard Lawence
#6 ILB - Jacob Phillips
#7 OLB - K'Lavon Chaisson
#6 CB - Kristian Fulton
#1 S - Grant Delpit

LSU in the Top 10 National Unit Rankings:
#7 Receivers
"The Tigers' passing game was 66th in the nation last season, which was 18 spots better than in 2017, which was 17 spots better than in 2016. That trend line should continue with Joe Burrow back to throw to leading WR Justin Jefferson (54 catches, 875y) and the three other top pass-catchers from last year."
#9 O-Line
"Putting the Tigers here with the assumption they can resemble the sum of their parts this season. Early injuries curtailed any cohesion under a new O line coach last year, and LSU didn't push people around near the goal line or in short yardage. Four starters are back, including C Lloyd Cushenberry III."
#3 D-Line
"LSU tied for 34th nationally in rushing defense and tied for 34th in sacks last season. That's not bad. But that's not the neighborhood the Tigers want to prowl in, and they should be moving on up this season, assuming mammoth E Rashard Lawrence has the big season we expect he will have. There is competition at the other two spots, with returning starter Breiden Fehoko moving from T to E, and early enrollee freshman Siaki Ika battling sophomore Tyler Shelvin at T."
#3 Linebackers
"LSU has the goods to replace Devin White. K'Lavon Chaisson is the potential difference-maker here, that dynamic edge rusher who creates opportunities for others up front and in the back end. He's coming off an ACL injury in last season's opener; a Sept. 7 game at Texas would be a good target date to be full speed. Meanwhile, there's Michel Divinity Jr. (five sacks), Jacob Phillips (87 tackles) and Patrick Queen in White's former inside spot."
#1 DBs
"SS Grant Delpit is the latest LSU star in the secondary, a playmaker all over the field with a knack for the big moment. Kristian Fulton might be in the NFL right now if not for a late-season ankle injury that required surgery and helped steer him back to Baton Rouge. JaCoby Stevens is a returning starter at FS ... and here's the next LSU great one: True freshman Derek Stingley Jr., already a projected starter.

Tigers on Lindy's All-SEC Teams
Lloyd Cushenberry III - Second Team C
Jacob Phillips - 1st team LB
Grant Delpit - 1st team S
K'Lavon Chaisson - 2nd team LB
Kristian Fulton - 2nd team CB
Rashard Lawrence - 3rd team DL
JaCoby Stevens - 3rd team S
Zach Von Rosenberg - 3rd team P

SEC Top 10 NFL Talent (draft-eligible players only)
#2 Grant Delpit
#7 Jacob Phillips
#9 K'Lavon Chaisson

LSU recruits in the Top 100 Freshmen for 2019
#3 Derek Stingley CB (#1 DB)
#13 John Emery Jr. RB (#2 RB)
#32 Marcel Brooks OLB (#4 LB)
#97 Kardell Thomas OG
LSU in Top 5 Schools by Position in 2019 Recruiting
#1 RB, #4 LB, #5 DB
Top 20 Incoming SEC Recruits
#2 Derek Stingley
#8 John Emery Jr.
#19 Marcel Brooks

Rating the SEC
LSU's unit rankings:
#6 QB, #8 RB, #3 Receivers, #4 OL, #2 DL, #2 LB, #1 Secondary, #4 Special Teams
Unfortunately, Alabama ranks ahead of the Tigers in all categories except secondary.

Tigers on the All-Decade SEC Team
Leonard Fournette - 1st team RB
Josh Jasper - 2nd team K
Patrick Peterson - 1st team DB
Morris Claiborne - 1st team DB
Tyrann Mathieu - 1st team All-Purpose
Devin White - 2nd team LB

Excerpts from the LSU article.
Familiarity has replaced uncertainty at LSU, which returns eight starters on both sides of the ball, 12 players who caught passes last season, and a seasoned QB whose unexpected arrival paid handsome dividends under the tutelage of a new O coordinator.
That's a far cry from last preseason. Back then, questions surrounded suspect QB personnel and a coordinator who had surrendered the job after filling in for the final eight games of 2016.
Not only did transfer QB Joe Burrow, coordinator Steve Ensminger and others erase most doubt, they produced a 10-3 record and a No. 6 national ranking after snapping UCF's 25-game winning streak with a 40-32 Fiesta Bowl victory.
That bolstered LSU's hope that it has reestablished itself on the national scene after a slide marked by offensive inadequacy. The Tigers were far from inadequate last season with a 32.4-point scoring average. "I really like the direction of our offense," coach Ed Orgeron said. ...
Overwhelming athletic ability, plus an abundance of experience. A veteran O line poised to distinguish itself. After a year's experience, Burrow figures to be even more assertive in his game management. He has a talented and deep receiving corps. In keeping with tradition, LSU sports a stout defensive backfield to complement a speedy and hard-hitting front seven.
A limited stable of RBs could lead to a more one-dimensional attack than the Tigers want. Unlike in years past, there are no veteran TEs in the mix. Depth along the defensive front could be an issue. The LB corps lost its centerpiece and must regroup. The secondary sports some new faces. The search continues for a dependable kicker.
Expectations run high after LSU exceeded preseason projections a year ago. The Tiger offense rallies around its QB, who provides them with much-needed direction that previously had been in short supply. The promise of a more potent passing attack looms large, given the personnel at hand. Defensively, the Tigers look to reassert themselves after performance in the last two games.
By the Numbers
3 Consecutive years in which the Alabama-Clemson loser has won the national title the following year.
Five-star recruits on Georgia's roster
TD/INT ratio in 2018 for Georgia QB Jake Fromm.
Combined receptions in 2018 for Georgia's four top receivers - good for 1905y and 22 TDs - none of whom return for 2019
Oklahoma's rank in total defense in 2018
Consecutive Big 12 titles won by Oklahoma
0 Seasons that new Michigan O-coordinator Josh Gattis has called an offense
35 Points per game for Florida in Dan Mullen's first year as head coach
101 Points allowed by Florida in their three 2018 losses
22 Wins by Notre Dame the last two seasons
16 Drop in points per game allowed by Oregon from 2016 to 2018
308 Consecutive passes without an INT by Texas QB Sam Ehlinger last year, a Big 12 record
6 Number of Texas A&M scholarship seniors for 2019
20 True freshmen who played for Clemson last year, the most since 1982
12-35 Combined 2018 record of North Carolina, Kansas, Central Michigan, and Liberty as four veteran coaches - Mack Brown, Les Miles, Jim McElwain, and Hugh Freeze respectively - take over for 2019.
20 Years in a row the SEC has led the nation in attendance (75,100 avg.)
1-15 Combined record of Ole Miss and Arkansas in SEC play last year (one of them had to win their meeting)
2019 College Football Preview: Athlon Sports

Athlon's Top Ten

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Michigan
  5. Ohio State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. LSU
  8. Florida
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Texas A&M

SEC teams in the top 25: 20 Auburn, 23 Missouri

In "Teams on the Rise," LSU is listed first.
"Granted, it's hard to improve on 10 wins when you live in the SEC West. But the Tigers were better than even their year-end No. 6 AP poll ranking would suggest, and now they return their starting QB and almost all of their receiving corps and offensive line. Last year's sophomore-heavy defense is now junior-heavy.
The LSU ground game was confusingly ineffective in 2018, but heading into the fall, the passing game might have more potential than it has since Zach Mettenberger was behind center. QB Joe Burrow's full-season stats were distinctly average - neither his 57.8 percent completion rate nor his 133.2 passer rating stood out in any way - but his improvement down the stretch was noticeable.
Over the first nine games of the season, Burrow completed just 53 percent of his passes at 12.5 yards per completion. His TD-to-INT ratio was 6-to-4, and his passer rating was just 114.3.
His last four games, however? A 67 percent completion rate, 14.4 yards per completion, 10-to-1 TDs-to-INTs, and a 173.5 rating.
Yes, those last four games included romps over Arkansas and Rice. They also included games against top-50 (per S&P+) Texas A&M and UCF defenses. Even accounting for schedule strength, that's drastic improvement. And now he brings back his top seven wideouts as well.
By the way, that sophomore-heavy defense ranked fifth in Def. S&P+ last year. It could be even better, too."

The "Teams on the Decline" list, includes Texas, LSU's week two opponent. However, the Longhorns are also listed under "Teams to Watch."
"An early visit from LSU could be a reality check, or the catalyst that sends the Horns' stock through the roof."

LSU Players on Athlon's Preseason All-America Team
First team defense – S Grant Delpit
Second team defense – CB Kristian Fulton

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

LSU is predicted to finish 10-2, 6-2 in SEC.
Bowl Projection: Sugar Bowl vs Oklahoma
LSU is the only SEC school that does not have a change in either offensive or defensive coordinator for 2019.
Three LSU games are listed in the SEC "Games to Watch."
Sept. 7 LSU @ Texas
"Both schools pursued Tom Herman following the 2017 season. Herman chose Texas - adding a little spice to this already intriguing showdown."
Nov. 9 LSU @ Alabama
"It's still must-see TV, but LSU needs to break through against the Tide at some point. The Tigers have scored a total of 10 points in the last three meetings."
Nov. 30 Texas A&M @ LSU
These teams played one of the most memorable games of the 2018 season - A&M's 74-72 win in seven OTs. LSU had won seven straight vs. the Aggies.

LSU players on Athlon's All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team defense
    CB Kristian Fulton, S Grant Delpit
  • 2nd team offense
    C Lloyd Cushenberry, OL Damien Lewis
  • 2nd team defense
    DL Rashard Lawrence, LB Jacob Phillips
  • 3rd team oofense
    WR Justin Jefferson
SEC Unit Rankings for LSU
QB - 7
RB - 6
WR/TE - 4
OL - 5

DL - 5
LB - 3
DB - 1

The national ranking for an LSU unit are DBs #1 and LBs #5.
Excerpts from the LSU article.
Key Tigers:
Joe Burrow QB The Ohio State transfer quickly impressed his new team with his tough-minded play and should thrive in LSU's new RPO attack.
Rashard Lawrence, DE The Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP gave LSU a huge boost when he decided to return for his senior season.
Grant Delpit SS Delpit's knack for making the big play makes him LSU's most feared DB since Tyrann Mathieu.
Rising Star:
The nation's No. 2-rated RB prospect, John Emery Jr. may not be expected to be quite the dominant player Leonard Fournette was when he arrived at LSU in 2014. But Emery could easily become the Tigers' starter in time for the season opener.

The LSU Tigers return seven starters on offense, eight on defense and landed a top-five recruiting class. But it may be the new $400,000-per-year assistant who makes the biggest impact. Coach Ed Orgeron hired Joe Brady away from the New Orleans Saints to serve as LSU's passing game coordinator. Brady's tasks: integrate elements of the Saints' potent passing game into LSU's playbook while also incorporating the run-pass option principles he learned under then-Penn State offensive coordinator and current Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead. ...
"I'm so fired up about our offense," Orgeron said during spring practice. "I just see the offense I finally want."
OFFENSE ... Burrow is on board with the transition to the RPO, the type of offense the former Ohio State transfer says he's been running since he was 13. "This is what I'm used to," says Burrow ...
Finding a replacement for departed senior TE Foster Moreau is a big priority as no other TE caught a pass in 2018.
DEFENSE Replacing Butkus Award winner Devin White may be an impossible challenge, and it will probably take more than one player to compensate for his productivity. ... LSU's secondary is part veteran, part newcomer - and all talent. ... Junior JaCoby Stevens appears to have found a home at FS.
SPECIALISTS All-American Cole Tracy set or tied seven school records in his one season at LSU ... His successor will likely be freshman Cade York or big-legged sophomore Avery Atkins.
FINAL ANALYSIS LSU looks to parlay its first New Year's Six bowl into being a true contender for the College Football Playoff. The road schedule is daunting, with a September trip to Texas and a November showdown at Alabama. But if LSU can manage to drop just one of those and hold serve on its remaining schedule, the Tigers can be in the mix for the CFP provided the RPO attack is as productive as hoped.

"This team could be their best chance to catch Alabama in a long time. You see athleticism and size everywhere. They're big and strong on both lines. They're going to be physical all over. ... Joe Burrow is the best QB to play for the Tigers in a long time .... They should have enough starting talent at RB for at least two SEC teams. ... Great LB play even with Devin White being gone. ... I know they're talking about installing RPO, but they still want to smash you running the ball ... And Ed Orgeron has a history with his play callers. He doesn't stray too far from what he's comfortable with no matter what he says when he hires them. ... This is the best team Orgeron has had. If they expand the offense, they can beat anyone."
By the Numbers
Percent of kickoffs for touchbacks (71 of 79) of LSU's Avery Atkins in 2018.
Percent of plays on which LSU ball carriers were brought down by a solo tackle in 2018 - second-lowest average in FBS. The Tigers were lowest in 2017 and second lowest in 2016, too.
LSU's field position margin of yards per possession - best in the SEC and No. 8 nationally.
Notre Dame's record in major bowls since 2000 under three different head coaches, losing by an average margin of 24 points.
Games Kansas has won in the past nine years as Les Miles takes over.
Teams among the dozen that played in a New Year's Six bowl game in 2018 that will rely this fall on a transfer QB who was either a) a full-time starter at his previous school; b) a former five-star prospect out of high school; or c) both.
10 Years since Auburn failed to produce a 1000y rusher before 2018
0-4 Jim Harbaugh's record against Ohio State at Michigan.
2000 Last season USC had a losing record before 2018
0-9 Rutgers' Big Ten record in 2018, putting Chris Ash on the hot seat after compiling a 7-29 record in three seasons as head coach.
4 Big Ten wins by Illinois in Lovie Smith's three seasons as head coach
97 Florida State's offensive S&P+ ranking, 60 places below 2017 in Jimbo Fisher's last season as head coach and 92 below 2016.
3 Coaches who have won 10 games at a Power 5 team after the team won fewer than five the previous season - Clark Shaughnessy (Stanford 1940), Gus Malzahn (Auburn 2013), and Dan Mullen (Florida 2018)
2019 College Football Preview: Street & Smith

Street & Smith's Top Ten

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Ohio State
  6. LSU
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida
  9. Texas
  10. Oregon

Other SEC teams in the top 25: 13 Texas A&M, 14 Auburn, 16 Mississippi State

Progams Closest to Their First CFP

  1. Texas
  2. Florida
  3. Michigan
  4. LSU
    The Tigers face a similar hurdle (as Michigan with Ohio State) against Alabama. Ed Orgeron has steadied the program with strong recruiting classes, Joe Burrow returns at QB and LSU is loaded on defense. Still, the Crimson Tide have won the last eight meetings between the schools. To win the SEC West, you have to beat 'Bama.
  5. Penn State

Coaches on the Hot Seat

  1. Clay Helton, USC
  2. Willie Taggart, Florida State
  3. Chris Ash, Rutgers
  4. Lovie Smith, Illinois
  5. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Auburn
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Arkansas
  7. Ole Miss
  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Missouri
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Kentucky
  7. Vanderbilt

On the Rise: Florida; On the Wane: Kentucky

Rating the SEC
Top Freshman: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
When Stingley Jr. picked off starting QB Joe Burrow in the Tigers' spring game, he delighted fans who expect him to start this season.

Best Interview: Ed Orgeron
He went into the interview Hall of Fame when video surfaced of him telling players to keep it down last yar during a press conference.

Top Scholar
Blake Ferguson, LS, LSU
The four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member has a degree in marketing and has chaired the conference's Leadership Council.

LSU's Top NFL Prospect: S Grant Delpit
There's a reason the Tigers gave Delpit the coveted No. 7 "playmaker" jersey this season: his combination of strength, speed and instincts. With Devin White gone to the NFL, LSU needs someone to create sudden change, and the 6-3, 203-pound junior can cover man-to-man, play center field and rush the passer with equal success.
Delpit is also the only LSU player on Street & Smith's All-America team.

Excerpts from the LSU article.
There are those who believe LSU did college football a favor January 1st by dumping UCF in the Fiesta Bowl and keeping the Knights from declaring themselves back-to-back champions.
But LSU helped itself a lot more than the football world at large with the 40-32 victory, because it capped off a relatively surprising 10-3 campaign that featured a win over Georgia and a zany, 74-72 loss to Texas A&M in seven OTs. Although there are some holes to fill in Baton Rouge - most notably at RB, LB, and CB - the Tigers are well-positioned to take a strong shot at SEC contention and perhaps even more ahead of Alabama for the first time in eight years.
Coach Ed Orgeron has always been a half-full kind of guy, so his trademark optimism can sometimes be dismissed as a function of his gregarious personality. But this is a good LSU team, and if it can field a more consistent offense and keep smacking people around on defense, it can be a great one.
The biggest change to the Tigers can be found on the coaching staff, where Joe Brady comes to the program from the New Orleans Saints to coordinate the passing game. He inherits a QB, senior Joe Burrow, who threw for 2,894y and 16 TDs last year. His overall completion percentage of 57.8 was not impressive, but Burrow connected on 66.9% of his throws over the last four games of the 2018 season and only tossed five picks all year. Add in Burrow's ability to run (399y, 7 TDs), and Brady has a strong player with whom to work.
"We can put a lot on Burrow," Orgeron says. "Joe's tough. Joe can make decisions. We'll let him do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage - let him check out of plays, let him handle the offense in a lot of situations, going hurry-up. Joe's smart. He can do it."
He won't have to break in a bunch of new targets because the Tigers' four top pass-catchers from last year return. Junior Justin Jefferson (54 catches, 6 TDs, 16.2ypc), sophomore Ja'Marr Chase (23, 3, 13.6) and senior Derrick Dillon (22, 2, 4.0) can put pressure on defenses, as can senior TE Stephen Sullivan (23, 2, 15.8). Former five-star recruit Terrace Marshall Jr. is a sophomore who is ready to make an impact.
Orgeron isn't shy about raising expectations for the Tiger RBs, even with last year's leading rusher, Nick Brossette (1,039y, 14 TDs), gone. Junior Clyde Edwards-Helaire (658, 7) showed himself to be solid last season, but Orgeron wants to see sophomore Chris Curry step up. Speedy John Emery Jr. and powerful Tyrion Davis-Price, a pair of freshmen, could boost the LSU ground profile considerbly.
Senior G Damien Lewis leads an offensive line that has four returning starters, but the Tigers need to average more than 4.0 ypc and cut back on the 35.0 sacks allowed last year.
There is plenty of talent on the defense, beginning with junior S Grant Delpit ... He had five picks and 5.0 sacks last season and will be one of the nation's best at his position. Greedy Williams' decision to exit for the NFL early leaves a hole at CB, but senior Kristian Fulton broke up nine passes last season, and Orgeron believes true freshman Derek Stingley Jr. could step into a starting spot.
The loss of last year's Butkus Award winner, Devin White, leaves a big hole at LB that junior Patrick Queen hopes to fill. Sophomore Micah Baskerville has a lot of potential, and senior Michael Divinity Jr. is a force on the outside. Up front, the Tigers will rely heavily on ends Glen Logan and Rashard Lawrence, who made 10.5 stops in the backfield last year.
By the Numbers
Percent of playoff berths that have been filled by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia in the five years of the CFP.
Auburn's record in SEC play over the last five seasons.
Tua Tagovailoa's TD/INT ratio in 2018.
Jalen Hurts's record as a starter at Alabama as he starts this season at Oklahoma.
Number of bowl games after the 2019 season.
Increase in TV viewers for the 2019 Sugar Bowl compared to 2018.
24 Number of 2018 bowl games that did not achieve a 2.0 TV rating.
19 Victories by Alabama-Birmingham the last two years after the program was shut down for two years.
9-27 East Carolina's record during the three-year tenure of former coach Scottie Montgomery.
8-15 The AAC's record against Power Five conference schools last year.
1981 Last undefeated season for Clemson before 2018.
2011 Last year that Michigan defeated Ohio State.
7-0 Urban Meyer's record against Michigan as coach of Ohio State
14 Consecutive years Wisconsin had beaten Minnesota before the Gophers won 37-15 last year.
1968 Last year Ohio won the MAC championship.
4-12 PAC-12's bowl record the last two seasons.
0 Number of SEC schools with new coaches this season
6 Number of SEC schools that had new coaches last season.
14 Consecutive winning seasons on its home field by Arkansas State
2019 College Football Preview: Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated's Top Ten

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Texas
  6. Ohio State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. LSU
  9. Oregon
  10. Florida

Other SEC teams in the top 25: 13 Texas A&M, 17 Auburn, 20 Mississippi State

Excerpts from the LSU article.
After putting up the school's first first 10-win season since 2013, gaining a Fiesta Bowl victory over UCF and landing a top five recruiting class, expectations are sky-high in Baton Rouge. LSU has 16 starters returning, a stout defense and a potential star at QB in Joe Burrow directing a revamped offense that includes playmakers like receiver Justin Jefferson. There's one big obstacle: Alabama, of course. The Tigers haven't beaten the Tide in eight years and have lost by a combined 63-10 score the last three seasons.
At the Fiesta Bowl last December, a high school player stole the show during LSU's practices. Derek Stingley, the top-ranked corner nationally in the 2019 class and the No. 3 recruit overall, graduated high school early and participated in the Tigers' bowl prep, and with his freakish athleticism he went toe-to-toe with Tigers starters on the field. Stingley was ineligible to compete in the bowl, but he'll be front and center this season as a lockdown corner and electric return man.
The good news: LSU's offensive line returns four starters. The bad: That group allowed more sacks last season (35) than all but 24 CFB teams. Can the unit bounce back? They'll need better play on the line for the new LSU offense to fire on all cylinders.
LSU fans have long been waiting for the Tigers' offense to advance schematically past the Stone Age and join the spread movement. That moment appears to have arrived. Coach Ed Orgeron hired New Orleans Saints offensive assistant Joe Brady to overhaul an offense that under Les Miles and in Orgeron's first three seasons was one of the country's most archaic units. (No LSU passing offense has cracked the top 50 nationally in six years.) Behind closed doors at spring practice, the offense featured five-receiver sets, no-huddle looks and a frenzied pace. How smooth the transition is under QB Joe Burrow will determine if LSU can actually have a real shot at upending Bama.
By the Numbers
7 Number of new assistant coaches at Alabama after last year's 44-16 loss to Clemson in the CFP final
Starters Alabama has lost to the NFL the last two seasons
Last season Alabama won fewer than 12 games
Last year Georgia won the national championship
Consecutive years Oklahoma has won 11 or 12 games.
Takeaways by Oklahoma last season - third fewest in the nation.
3 Returning defensive starters for Texas
22-4 Notre Dame's record in its last 26 games
0 New Year's Six bowl victories by Notre Dame under Brian Kelly
1 Times Washington has had three straight seasons of double-digits wins - 2016, 2017, and 2018.
6 NFL draft picks from the Utah defensive line the last five years
75% Percent of his remaining contract that Auburn must pay Gus Malzahn if they fire him after the 2019 season.
60% Percent of Wisconsin's rushing yardage gained by RB Jonathan Taylor in 2018.
5 200+y games by Taylor in 2018
1 Mississippi State's natinal rank in yards-per-play allowed in 2018.
20-18 Michigan State's record the last three years
1992 Last time Virginia Tech had a losing season before 2018
3 Consecutive seasons Virginia Tech has finished outside the nation's top 50 in scoring
295.1 Total yards per game of Nebraska's freshman QB Adrian Martinez in 2018, a school record
Tiger Rag 2019 LSU Football Preview
Head coach Ed Orgeron on QB Joe Burrow: "I do believe that Joe, if we let him, would run into a brick wall no matter what it took. He's that tough ... he has a linebacker mentality."
O-coordinator Steve Ensminger: "We're going to be fine at TE, but it's going to be by committee. We can go '12' personnel, and we can put Jamal (Pettigrew) in and we can put TK (T.K. McClendon) in, and we got a big TE who can run block... We can go Thaddeus Moss and Stephen Sullivan, (and) now you have two athletic TEs in there. There's a lot of different ways we can use our TEs."
D-coordinator Dave Aranda on S Grant Delpit: "We want to be able to build him toward the line of scrimmage. I think he has the ability to instinctively make plays when there's edges set... I feel like our ability to put him in those spots, in critical spots when we're expecting run, is the smart thing to do. He has shown the ability to play the deep middle and have great range ..."
Aranda on his secondary and LBs: "We've got guys on the perimeter that can make plays sideline to sideline, can blitz, cover, and guys that need to be isolated (on) pass rush one-on-ones that can win on RBs, that can win on O-linemen on the interior, as well as offensive tackle pass sets."
Orgeron: "I'm going to be a lot more involved with coaching the defensive line than I've ever been. We'll go back to being an attacking defensive line, some tackles in the backfield, getting a better QB rush. We'll enable these guys. We are going to make some slight adjustments on how we play with the guys, but it will be more of a freestyle attack."
Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon on PK Cade York: "I like his moxie. The longer you do this, you're looking for certain characteristics. Think about this: When you're a placekicker in the SEC or the NFL, you've got to be able to deal with pressure. ... You've got to be able to deal with weakness. We like this player. There's a confidence about this player, and it's obvious how strong his leg is."
McMahon on freshman kick returner Derek Stingley Jr.: "He's got a skill level, he's got a work ethic, he's got a focus about him. He's just one of those young guys who puts work in. It was big getting him in spring because you get a chance to see the player. We're excited about him and he's going to put in the time. Any time you've got a guy with a skill level like this kid, you've got to do a good job of taking advantage of his skills. Anybody we put back there we want to get big plays out of them, and that's a phase we need to improve on and will improve on."

Tiger Rag's Top Ten

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. Ohio State
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Michigan
  7. LSU
  8. Texas
  9. Florida
  10. Texas A&M
  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Auburn
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Arkansas
  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Missouri
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Kentucky
  7. Vanderbilt

LSU players on Preseason All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team offense
    OL Lloyd Cushenberry
  • 1st team defense
    DL Rashard Lawrence
    LB Grant Delpit
  • 2nd team offense
    OL Damien Lewis
  • 2nd team defense
    DB Kristian Fulton
  • 3rd team offense
    QB Joe Burrow
    WR Justin Jefferson
  • 3rd team defense
    LB Jacob Phillips
By the Numbers
6 Consecutive seasons the Tigers have had a RB eclipse 1,000y for the season
Number of receiving yards TE Foster Moreau garnered in 2018
Most sacks by any LSU D lineman in 2018 (Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan)
Number of sacks (out of the team's 34) that returning D linemen accounted for in 2018
Weight of D-lineman Tyler Shevlin when he signed with LSU in 2017
Shevlin's weight as of July 15, 2019
4 LSU LBs on the Butkus Award preseason Watch List
19.9 Percent of his pass rush attempts LB Michael Divinity won last season, ranking him 8th among returning edge defenders nationwide
43 QB pressures by Divinity last season, the most of any returning SEC player
14 Number of INTs by freshman Derek Stingley Jr. in his final 20 high school games
15 Kickoff and punt return TDs by Stingley in his career at the Dunham School in Baton Rouge
3 Number of LSU's four non-conference opponents who won at least 10 games last season
6 Number of LSU offensive coordinators since the beginning of the 2010 season
1 Number of times LSU has lost three games in a row in the last two decades (2015)
19 Consecutive LSU seasons with eight wins or more
9-3 LSU's record against Alabama in the first 12 years of this century

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