4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LSU DEFENSE
– A few killers are gone off the defense that allowed just 339 yards and 22 points per game, but eight starters and seven of the top nine tacklers are back to overcome the loss off LB Devin White and CB Greedy Williams. The pass rush was fine, the run defense was good enough, but the secondary was a killer – and should be again.
– Yeah, Williams is gone at one corner, but the Tigers welcome back the best safety in college football in junior Grant Delpit, and 6-2, 225-pound junior JaCoby Stevens has the size and thump to be a force after coming up with 35 tackles in a rising role. There’s depth, too, going along with a great recruiting class of talent.
6-0, 192-pound senior Kristian Fulton suffered a foot injury late last season, but he’s back at one corner job with all-star talent and upside. It’ll be a battle for the other spot, and there’s no wrong answer among sophomore Kelvin Joseph – a 6-1, 195-pounder who was good when he got his shot – battling with star recruit Derek Stingley Jr. The 6-1, 195-pound true freshman has the NFL upside to step in right away and rock.
– There’s no replacing what Devin White brought to the linebacking corps, but second-leading tackler Jacob Phillips is back after coming up with 87 stops despite a shoulder injury, and with 6-2, 238-pound senior Michael Divinity likely playing inside with the pass rushing ability to rock on the outside depending on the alignment.
The biggest key to the defense is the health of sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson, the 6-4, 238-pound pass rushing star who’s back from a torn ACL. If he’s right, the corps is a killer. If he needs time, it’ll either be Divinity on the outside, or junior Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton ready to do more.
– LSU is loaded on the line after getting through a season full of injuries. 6-3, 317-pound Rashard Lawrence and 6-4, 291-pound Breiden Fehoko are big veterans in the mix with 295-pound junior Neil Farrell. The ends will be working around massive 6-3, 362-pound sophomore Tyler Shelvin on the nose in a rotation with 6-4, 347-pound star recruit Siaki Ika.