May 21, 2024

LSU quarterback Danny Etling (16) escapes a sack by Syracuse defensive lineman Kendall Coleman (55) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

If there’s any team in the country that has had quarterbacks who were a liability to the program, LSU has to be towards the top of the list. Year in and year out the Tigers bring in elite recruiting classes, have game-breaking running backs and tenacious defenses, but still haven’t been in the SEC Championship game since 2011. Head Coach Ed Orgeron, who’s on every naysayers list of coaches on the hot seat entering 2018, has the most pressure of any coach to win big. And rightfully so, after the humiliating home loss to Troy last season. He has taken every opportunity to make sure he stays above water starting by naming Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow his starter for the season-opener against Miami. Burrow will be surrounded by five starters on offense from a unit that was definitely missing an effective signal-caller, finishing 84th nationally in pass yards per game last season.  On defense LSU was pretty much the same as the unit always has been, finishing 12th nationally in total defense last season and returns five starters, led by star linebacker Devin White.

Team strengths: The defensive secondary. The Tigers finished 21st nationally in pass defense last season and returns three ball-hawking starters in the secondary. Greedy Williams, John Battle and Gant Delpit combined for 159 tackles, including 7.5 from behind the line of scrimmage and eight interceptions.

Team weaknesses: Inexperience at wide receiver: Quarterback play has plagued this team for several years, and now LSU will have a new-signal caller to throw to some talented, but inexperienced wide receivers. Tight end Foster Moreau is the teams’ leading returner in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. No receiver on the roster has caught more than 14 balls in their career.

Players to watch: Linebacker White and cornerback Williams. White led the team in tackles and tackles for loss with 133 stops and 14 from behind the line of scrimmage. He also added 4.5 sacks, an interception, was named the teams’ MVP and earned First Team All-SEC. Williams had 38 tackles, 1.5 for loss and a team-high six interceptions, earning First Team All-SEC and Third Team All-America honors.

The schedule: Brutal. LSU has arguably the toughest schedule in the country. The Tigers open up the season against a very good Miami team. The home slate features Ole Miss, Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama. Playing at Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M seems so unfair to any team.

My take: Breaking in a new quarterback, rebuilding at the running back and wide receiver positions and returning only two starters on the offensive line means this is going to be a dreadful year for the Tigers. The teams’ only hope is to rely on its talented defense early on while the offense finds its footing. Orgeron already has one foot out the door and if he can’t deliver anything special this season the door will be slammed shut on him.