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
SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  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
Offense
Lloyd Cushenberry III - Second Team C
Defense
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. ...
PRIMARY STRENGTHS:
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.
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:
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.
OVERVIEW:
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.
14
Five-star recruits on Georgia's roster
30/6
TD/INT ratio in 2018 for Georgia QB Jake Fromm.
130
Combined receptions in 2018 for Georgia's four top receivers - good for 1905y and 22 TDs - none of whom return for 2019
114
Oklahoma's rank in total defense in 2018
4
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

SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  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.

OPPOSING COACHES SIZE UP LSU
"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
89.9
Percent of kickoffs for touchbacks (71 of 79) of LSU's Avery Atkins in 2018.
60
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.
5.6
LSU's field position margin of yards per possession - best in the SEC and No. 8 nationally.
0-6
Notre Dame's record in major bowls since 2000 under three different head coaches, losing by an average margin of 24 points.
18
Games Kansas has won in the past nine years as Les Miles takes over.
6
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
SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  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
75
Percent of playoff berths that have been filled by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia in the five years of the CFP.
23-17
Auburn's record in SEC play over the last five seasons.
43/6
Tua Tagovailoa's TD/INT ratio in 2018.
26-2
Jalen Hurts's record as a starter at Alabama as he starts this season at Oklahoma.
39
Number of bowl games after the 2019 season.
40%
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
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.
2018 College Football Preview: Street & Smith
Street and Smith is more optimistic about LSU for 2018 than the other preview magazines, ranking them higher in the SEC West and the national Top 25 despite going to press before Burrow's transfer.

Street and Smith's Top Ten

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

Other SEC teams in the top 25: 12 Auburn, 17 LSU, 19 Mississippi State, 24 South Carolina

Excerpts from the LSU article.
LSU has some big holes, must find a way to inject some life into its offense - hello, new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger - and replace key contributors at important positions. It may be that the Tigers will be a better team than last year's 9-4 outfit ... but not have an appreciably better record. In fact, the Tigers could finish with fewer wins.
Coach Ed Orgeron's team has lots of talent, but much of it is young. An early spin around the depth chart reveals only four senior starters, and the vast majority of backups are underclassmen, too. ...
Ensminger promises a no-huddle attack with plenty of three- and four-receiver sets, but he has to find someone capable of triggering it.
(This was before Burrow's transfer.) ...
Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams produced 2,071y and 20 TDs. Both are gone, leaving Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire ... Brossette is a bruiser, but both should look out for true freshman Chris Curry, who arrives in the summer. ...
Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles ... should juice up the receiving corps. ...
The offensive line is strong in the middle, particularly senior G Garrett Brumfield, but the Tigers need to find a new C ... and a RT ...
Both ends are gone on defense ... Inside LB Devin White is a standout, while outside man K'Lavon Chaisson has plenty of potential. ...
The vaunted WR tradition at LSU is in good hands with this 2018 class. Terrace Marshall Jr. and Ja'Marr Chase make up arguably the best one-two wideout punch in this recruiting cycle. The other typically loaded positions at LSU also got restocked: Local product Kelvin Joseph comes in ready to compete for a starting job in the secondary, freakish Dare Rosenthal (6-7 331 pounds) brings rare physical traits and Dallas OLB Jarell Cherry offers length and athleticism. Also, keep an eye ona juco G Damien Lewis to contribute very early on the offensive line.

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

LSU players on Street & Smith's All-SEC Teams:

  • 1st team defense
    LB Devin White, CB Greedy Williams
Top SEC Transfer: Jonathan Giles WR, LSU
The Texas Tech expat caught 69 passes in 2016 and will breathe life into the Tigers' passing game
Coordinator to Watch: Dave Aranda, DC, LSU
Best Game-Day Atmosphere: Tiger Stadum, LSU
With an extra 40,000 or so ticketless Tigers packing the area around the stadium, LSU wins the tailgate. When the game starts, things get even crazier.

By the Numbers
1-5
Jim Harbaugh's record against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State
1-26
Kansas's record in Big 12 play the last three seasons under David Beaty
5
Georgia assistant coaches who make at least $825,000.
5
Number of assistants in FBS football who made at least $825,000 five years ago
2,572
Rushing yards by Georgia's former RBs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb last season
13
Starters Alabama lost after last season, including nine on defense
1,000 Yards gained by Alabama RB Damien Harris last season
28 Combined carries by LSU RBs Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire last year.
41.1 Points per game by Penn State last year under O-coordinator Joe Moorhead, now head coach at Mississippi State
460.3 Yards per game by Penn State last season

Comments on LSU's SEC Opponents

  • Alabama
    If Hurts wants the starting job, he must get more accurate throwing the ball, while Tagovailoa needs to gain experience, although he sure looked pretty calm against Georgia. ...
    There are some questions at wideout since four of the top five receivers from 2017 have left the fold. ...
    There are some big holes to fill along the defensive line ...
    There is trouble in the secondary. ...
  • Arkansas
    After five years of Bret Bielema's ground-based power attack, the Hogs will be making a dramatic switch under first-year head coach Chad Morris ... "We're going to be explosive and fast," Morris says. "We're going to go from 62 plays a game to about 82 to 86 plays." ...
    The defense will switch to a 4-3 ... The unit must improve from last year when it allowed 5.0 ypc and forced only 17 turnovers.
  • Auburn
    With a sturdy QB (Jarrett Stidham), some great receivers and a defensive line that will be one of the best in the country, Auburn is poised to make another run at the division crown. ...
    Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 1,391y and scored 18 times in 2017, is gone. Although likely starter Kam Martin has potential ... it's unlikely the TB spot will produce as much as Johnson did, even in an offense that relies on the run as much as Malzahn's does.
  • Mississippi State
    There were those in the Pennsylvania media who said Penn State's biggest loss after the 2017 season wasn't all-world RB Saquon Barkley, but former O-coordinator Joe Moorhead, now Mississippi State's head coach. During his 26 games in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions scored at least 30 points 21 times. ...
    QB Nick Fitzgerald is a mobile weapon who ran for 14 TDs last year but struggled with accuracy and interceptions when throwing.
    New D coordinator Bob Shoop will convert the Bulldogs from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (and 4-2-5 at times) after a shaky year guiding the Tennessee defense. ... Mississippi State must find a new CB, but there is plenty of talent and experience on the rest of the defense.
  • Ole Miss
    The Rebels closed 2017 winning three of their last four games, and that was enough to earn Matt Luke a promotion from interim head coach to full-time boss man. ... Luke must convince players that working and competing for 12 regular-season games is enough - no bowls. Luke is convinced he can do that.
    He's also confident second-year D coordinator Wesley McGriff will improve a unit that finished 115th in the FBS last year in yards allowed ...
  • Texas A&M
    This year's Texas A&M outfit is hoping it lives an entire season, unlike previous Aggie editions, which often looked great for six or seven games before deteriorating. ... A&M should be far less prone to collapses than its predecessors.
    Jimbo Fisher's charge is to match the school's outstanding commitment to its football program with a result commensurate with that dedication. He'll do that by instilling a culture that promotes consistent achievement, constant effort and a desire to imbue the mundane with purpose and urgency. Should the Aggie players adopt those traits, the school's frothing fanbase might just have something to celebrate in a season or two. ...
    Expect the Aggie front seven to be sout, particularly since new D coordinator Mike Elko (arriving from Notre Dame) has a great track record.
  • Florida
    Dan Mullen will put his considerable QB-training skills to the test by trying to coax a big season out of a position the Gators need to be a strong point if they are to reverse their recent troubles. ...
    Whoever wins the QB job had better hope that Florida's receiving corps improves. ... if Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson is deemed immediately eligible [he was], the crew will receive a boost.
    New D-coordinator Todd Grantham is switching the Gators to a 3-4 alignment ... There is plenty of experience in a solid secondary. ...
  • Georgia
    Georgia coach Kirby Smart on getting past the pain of losing to Alabama in last season's final game: Every second you think about it is one second you could be moving forward. We told our players we wanted them looking out the front windshield instead of the rear-view mirror. Kids today get past things much quicker than coaches. We have used it as a teaching moment.
2018 College Football Preview: ESPN the Magazine
Street and Smith is more optimistic about LSU for 2018 than the other preview magazines, ranking them higher in the SEC West and the national Top 25 despite going to press before Burrow's transfer.

Top Ten in ESPN's Power Rankings

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

Other SEC teams in the top 25: 17 Mississippi State, 25 South Carolina

By the Numbers
6
Consecutive seasons the Alabama-Auburn game has decided who goes to the SEC Championship Game
10
Returning offensive starters for Florida
9
Consecutive seasons Auburn has had a 1,000y rusher
7 Consecutive seasons the Clemson-Florida State winner has taken home the ACC crown
49.8
Percent of its 2017 tackles that Georgia lost for 2018.

Interesting Quotations

  • On Alabama QB Tua Tagoviloa
    Is it possible he's the best, most explosive QB Saban has ever had? ... Can a guy with 77 career passes supplant Hurts? Tagovailoa still hasn't officially beaten out the incumbent, a former SEC Offensive Player of the year with a 26-2 record as a starter. It's one of the most intriguing QB battles college football has ever seen.
  • Georgia
    Georgia has become the Alabama of the SEC East, thanks largely to former Tide DC Kirby Smart - one of the most important assistants Saban has ever had. From schemes to recruiting, Smart is a virtual carbon copy.
  • Miami
    Mark Richt is Exhibit A on how Saban raised expectations in the SEC: Despite 145 wins at Georgia, Richt was cut loose without any rings. Now he's leading a renaissance at his alma mater - out from Saban's pesky shadow.
  • Mississippi State
    New coach Joe Moorhead hails from the Big Ten, and he has constructed what might be the SEC's most Saban-insulated program. But is that a good thing?
  • South Carolina
    Will Muschamp spent five formative years under Saban at LSU and with the Dolphins, and he quickly hired assistant Lance Thompson, who was at Bama for two stints (2007-08 and 2012-14).
2018 College Football Preview: Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated's football issue didn't come out until mid-August. That accounts for their ranking Ohio State much lower than the earlier magazines.

Top Ten

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Washington
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Georgia
  7. Penn State
  8. Auburn
  9. Ohio State
  10. West Virginia
There are no other SEC teams in the Top 20
By the Numbers
31
Number of rushing TDs in 2017 by Georgia RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, both off to the NFL
160.1
Passer rating of QB Jake Fromm in his first season at Georgia, ranking first among freshmen and eighth among all FBS QBs
53
Games won by Alabama since 2014, an FBS record for most wins in a four-year span
11.9 Points per game allowed by Alabama in '17, fewest in the country
3
Single-digit losses by Auburn (to Clemson, LSU, and Central Florida) among Auburn's four last season.
2003 Last time Miami had a ten-win season before last year.
31 Turnovers forced by Miami last season, third most in the country

Interesting Quotations about LSU's Opponents

  • Opposing Coach's Take on Alabama
    Let's remember: They probably shouldn't even have been in the playoff and won the championship by the skin of their teeth. It wasn't a totally dominant Nick Saban team. That being said, this team could be better than last year's. ... Their offense could be as explosive as it's ever been in the Saban era. QB Tua Tagovailoa can make plays that you've never seen from a QB there before, and the new offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley, is more of a spread guy than his predecessors, so he'll air things out. ... They are very strong at RB. ... There's more uncertainty on the defense. They lost eight starters to the NFL, but the big question is if they'll take a step back with (former DC) Jeremy Pruitt now at Tennessee.
  • Opposing Coach's Take on Georgia
    Since Kirby Smart took over two years ago their scheme has looked a lot like Smart's former team's - but after a few strong recruiting classes, now their personnel is starting to look like Alabama's, too. When we studied all our opponents, they were, by far, the most physical team, on both offense and defense. .
  • Opposing Coach's Take on Auburn
    Auburn under coach Gus Malzahn is the epitome of SEC football: a great combination of power football combined with gadgets and trickery, simple concepts for explosive athletes. Facing Malzahn, you have to prepare for things that he did 10 years ago as an offensive coordinator, because you never know what he's going to dig up. ... There's still a lot to be desired with QB Jarrett Stidham. Facing a rush, his eyes come down. He gets nervous because he doesn't want to get hit. ... The defense has a chance to be one of the best in the country.
  • Opposing Coach's Take on Miami
    The Miami Way under Coach Mark Richt is simple: Our players are faster and bigger and stronger than your players, so we're going to let our players play. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. With the Hurricanes' talent at their skill positions, a team like Duke has no business competing against them, but last year the Blue Devils made adjustments and the game was tight until the end. ... Defensively, they're small, scrappy and they're going to blitz from all over the field in their 4-3 set.
2018 College Football Preview: Phil Steele
Phil Steele's Top Ten
  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Washington
  5. Georgia
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Miami (FL)
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas

Other SEC teams in Top 25: 17 Florida, 19 Auburn, 21 Mississippi State

Phil Steele's SEC PICKS
SEC WEST SEC EAST
  1. Alabama
  2. Auburn
  3. Mississippi State
  4. Texas A&M
  5. LSU
  6. Arkansas
  7. Ole Miss
  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. South Carolina
  4. Missouri
  5. Kentucky
  6. Tennessee
  7. Vanderbilt
By the Numbers
17
Consecutive seasons in which LSU has won at least eight games, second longest in the FBS.
22.8
Average margin for Vanderbilt in their seven SEC defeats in 2017.
56.8
Points per game average by Missouri the last two years vs non-Power Five teams or Power Five teams not in a bowl
20 Points per game by Missouri against Power Five teams that went to a bowl the last two seasons
19
Returning starters at Florida
3 Preseason top five teams that Auburn plays away from home this season
0 National titles won by Alabama under Nick Saban when ranked #1 in the composite preseason polls

Excerpts from Steele's LSU Analysis (Written after Joe Burrow transferred)

  • QBs: LSU is moving to a more pass-happy system so their numbers will naturally improve and Burrow should have a fine season.
  • RBs: This unit is clearly less experienced and this is the first time LSU has zero td's returning frm their RB's since 1974!
  • Receivers: They have great size with six WR's being 6'3" or taller ... They are in better overall shape despite losing their top 2 and should have a big increase in production in the new offense.
  • Offensive Line: (In 2017) Will Clapp moved to C, making room for Saahdiq Charles to become the first true frosh OL in LSU history to start the opener. ... They have three starters returning with just 35 career starts, but add two very highly touted (VHT) JC's. They are more experienced and stronger but, without their talented RB's, their rush numbers could be down.
  • Defensive Line: This is a less experienced unit but still very talented (9 VHTs).
  • LBs: Devin White became the first LSU player to win SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors four times in one season and led with 133 tackles. ... This unit is loaded with VHT's and 6 have starting experience so they actually have more experience than the '17 version.
  • DBs: There are some depth concerns at CB (since alleviated by Fulton's reduced suspension) but we expect another top 15 finish in our Pass Defense Ratings.
  • Special Teams: This year they lose 1st team SEC PR Chark but add transfer K Cole Tracy and hired a ST coach in Greg McMahon so they should be improved.
  • 2018 Prognosis: They did get the late addition of QB Burrow from Ohio State and Aranda will guide one of the SEC's top defenses as always. LSU was +10 in TO's in '17 and has just 10 returning starters and drops to #129 on my Experience Chart. The Tigers play Miami in the opener and two of their SEC home games are vs Alabama and Georgia. They will have to win some big road games this year to get back to '17's 9 win total and Ed Orgeron is on my hotseat list.
Steele's SEC Unit Rankings for LSU
QB - 12
RB - 11
REC - 8
OL - 5

DL - 6
LB - 2
DB - 1
ST - 9
Steele's National Unit Rankings for LSU
QB - Not in top 55
RB - 52
REC - 28
OL - 19

DL - 26
LB - 10
DB - 4
ST - Not in top 55

LSU's 2018 schedule is ranked the 10th toughest in the nation.

Phil's 2018 Surprise Teams

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Texas
  3. Michigan State
  4. Michigan
  5. Stanford
  6. USC
  7. Florida State
  8. Mississippi State
  9. Boston College
  10. TCU

Phil's 2018 Most Improved Teams

  1. Florida
  2. Utah State
  3. North Carolina
  4. Colorado
  5. Georgia Southern
  6. Old Dominion
  7. Nebraska
  8. ULM
  9. Miami (OH)
  10. Indiana

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