LSU was hit with a hard case of first to worst. After winning the national championship in 2019, the Tigers came crashing back down to earth in 2020. Considering the losses to their roster, the tough year was somewhat expected, but it seemed even worse than their 5-5 record would suggest.
Granted, a late-season win over Florida to keep the Gators out of the College Football Playoff was a nice recovery, but fans won’t accept another .500 season with that much talent on the roster. It’s time for Ed Orgeron to prove his program wasn’t a flash in the pan.
OutKick has been going through and breaking down the offseason outlooks for all 14 SEC teams. So far, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M have been done. Now it’s time to take a closer look at LSU.
For other offseason outlooks from around the SEC, click here.
Key Losses: WR Ja’Marr Chase; WR Terrace Marshall Jr.; TE Arik Gilbert; DT Tyler Shelvin; LB Jabril Cox; CB Kary Vincent Jr.; S JaCoby Stevens
Key Returning: QB Myles Brennan/Max Johnson; WR Kayshon Boutte; OT Dare Rosenthal; OG Ed Ingram; C Liam Shanahan; RG Chasen Hines; RT Austin Deculus; CB Derek Stingley Jr.; CB Eli Ricks; EDGE B.J. Ojulari; EDGE Ali Gaye; DT Glen Logan; CB Cordale Flott; K Cade York
Key Additions: DT Maason Smith (5-star); S Sage Ryan (5); S Derrick Davis Jr. (4); WR Deion Smith (4); WR Chris Hilton (4); WR Brian Thomas Jr. (4); QB Garrett Nussmeier (4); OT Garrett Dellinger (4); RB Armoni Goodwin (4); OLB Mike Jones Jr. (TP, CLEM)
Key Games: vs. Auburn (Oct. 2); at Kentucky (Oct. 9); vs. Florida (Oct. 16); at Ole Miss (Oct. 23); at Alabama (Nov. 6); vs. Texas A&M (Nov. 27)
Outlook: LSU had an absurd amount of turnover with its roster and coaching staff following its national title season. This year, that won’t be as much of an issue from a numbers standpoint. The team has already gotten used to life without talents such as Chase, Shelvin and Vincent.
The entire offensive line returns, and Kayshon Boutte is already emerging as a top-flight option in the passing game. Replacing freshman phenom Arik Gilbert won’t be easy, but we’re starting to see that the offensive system in place is effective.
The importance of adding Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr. out of the transfer portal cannot be overstated. The defense is losing a one-year star in Jabriel Cox, so Jones has a clear path to become the top second-level defender on the roster.
The defensive line returns most of its production, and the secondary includes an impressive trio of cornerbacks: Stingley, Ricks and Flott. Add in another trio of potential early contributors in Maason Smith, Sage Ryan and Derrick Davis Jr., and we might see a small bounce back on that side of the ball.
There’s plenty of reason for hope, but the schedule is absolutely brutal. After a manageable September, the Tigers will begin a five-game stretch that includes:
- vs. Auburn (Oct. 2)
- at Kentucky (Oct. 9)
- vs. Florida (Oct. 16)
- at Ole Miss (Oct. 23)
- at Alabama (Nov. 6)
That stretch is sandwiched with a road game against Mississippi State and a home game against Arkansas, neither of which will be easy. The point? Even if LSU fields a better squad in 2021, it’s possible the record might not improve as much as some would like.
A 9-3 record would be a home run, but 8-4 or even 7-5 might be more realistic.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.