LSU football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Tigers, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The LSU Tigers Offense
Yeah, LSU might have the best player in college football to run the ball, but it’s going to have a passing element, too. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron knows how to get an air show flying, and he’s got the receivers to do it. The big difference is experience at quarterback with Brandon Harris having been through the wars.
Harris will never be Tom Brady, but he should be a positive after a good offseason. Of course, the offense will mostly work around Leonard Fournette, but he might not have to carry as much of the load if the passing game does its part. The offensive line is strong enough and good enough to make life easy for No. 7.
What You Need To Know About The LSU Tigers Defense
New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda isn’t going to necessarily ramp up the pressure like all new coordinators say they’re going to do, but he’s going to implement his 3-4 alignment – at least as much as possible – while making the scheme as easy as possible for all the veterans to quickly adapt to.
All four starters are back to a line that can switch up the alignment when needed, and while losing Deion Jones and Lamar Louis from the outside of the linebacking corps hurts, there’s a ton of speed and young talent to work into the fold. Jamal Adams should be among the best safeties in the country as the star of a loaded secondary.
Biggest Key To The LSU Offense
It’s not just going to be all Leonard Fournette. Of course the Tigers are going to feed the guy who should be a multi-millionaire right now starting in an NFL backfield, and when push comes to shove, the offense is going to go with the power running game. But after finishing 105th in the nation in passing, this time around the Tigers will be more efficient and should add far more pop.
Malachi Dupre and a healthy Travin Dural form a terrific receiving punch that’ll finally start getting used more. Brandon Harris is a decent enough passer to get by, and now he’s got the experience. As long as there’s more of a threat of Harris pushing the ball deep, the running game should be even deadlier.
Biggest Key To The LSU Defense
Dave Aranda’s 3-4 should be fantastic. The new defensive coordinator will use a variety of sets and schemes, but at its base will be a 3-4 alignment that should crank up the production from the defensive tackles – and they’re jacked about it.
The linebackers will be turned loose from all four spots, while the front three’s job is to dominate between the hashmarks and crash into the backfield, too. With superstar line coach Ed Orgeron handling the front three, expect it to be an absolute killer.
LSU Will Be Far Better If …
The penalties slow to a crawl. Flags have been a problem in the past for LSU, but after doing okay in 2014, it was hit 97 times last year including 13 in the loss to Ole Miss and ten in the win over Texas Tech in the bowl win. The team overall should be good enough to overcome some of the bad games – like the win over Syracuse despite getting flagged 14 times – but eight penalties a game will start to add up in the bigger battles. For an offense that thrives on third-and-short, flags were occasionally drive killers.
Best LSU Offensive Player
RB Leonard Fournette, Jr. – There’s no real argument against Derrick Henry winning the 2015 Heisman, and there’s no beef against Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey being finalists, but Fournette deserved to be in New York. He had one bad game, and it wasn’t his fault he had to deal with a frothing-at-the-mouth Alabama defense that held him to 31 yards and a score on 19 carries – Henry never had to face the Crimson Tide D. His 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns were special, and now the spotlight and pressure are on to do it all again.
Best LSU Defensive Player
S Jamal Adams, Jr. – The Tigers are loaded with potential all-star and NFL defenders with CB/S Tre’Davious White, LB Kendall Beckwith, and DT Christian LaCouture are just a few of the returning rocks for what should be an improved D. But it’s Adams who should be the best of the bunch with prototype size and next-level range.
The pass defense was just okay last season, but it should be fantastic this time around with all the returning talent and experience. Adams should be an All-America lock and a first round draft pick next year if all goes according to plan.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Brandon Harris, Jr. – With Anthony Jennings transferring, there’s no looking over the shoulder – Harris is the LSU quarterback who’ll be the difference between a good offense and a fantastic one. Everything else around him is there to succeed, and now it’s his job to be more efficient, more effective, and not afraid to become even more of a playmaker.
Last year he only completed 54% of his passes for 2,158 yards and 13 scores and eight picks, and he ran for 226 yards and four touchdowns. He doesn’t have to carry the team or the offense on his shoulders, but for LSU to play up to its potential, he’ll have to come up with at least one big game and pull out at least one huge win.
The LSU Season Will Be A Success If …
They win the SEC title. They’re actually going to be good enough to get to the College Football Playoff and play for the national title, but for a team coming off a disappointing season, and after all the drama, winning the SEC championship would be fantastic. There’s no real excuse for it not to happen considering all the returning talent and experience – set the expectations very, very high and look for the return of a superpower.
Nov. 5 vs. Alabama Any team worthy of being talked about for the CFP and maybe even the national title should be able to beat Wisconsin and Florida on the road, or at least go 3-1 against those two and Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road. Ole Miss has to come to Death Valley, and so does Alabama.
Last year, LSU was 7-0 before going to Tuscaloosa, and the Crimson Tide pitched a defensive gem. The Tigers have lost their last five games against Bama – starting with the 2012 BCS Championship – but if all goes according to plan, this should be the game of the year.
2016 LSU Fun Stats
– First Quarter Scoring: LSU 83 – Opponents 33
– Penalties: LSU 97 for 784 yards – Opponents 72 for 600 yards
– Sacks: LSU 34 for 236 yards – Opponents 17 for 119 yards
2016 LSU Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to LSU this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …