CAN LSU WIN 10+ GAMES IN 2017?
According to the Football Power Index (FPI), which measures a team’s strength and performance moving forward, FPI projected results are based on over 10 thousand simulations of a teams schedule. LSU is scheduled to face four top 25 ranked teams: at Florida (15), home vs Auburn (11), at Alabama (1), and at Tennessee (25). According to FPI, the Tigers’ winning chances are 59.5% vs. Tennessee, 56.3% vs. Florida, 53% vs. Auburn and a slim 25% vs. Alabama. Of the other 8 teams they’ll play in 2017, FPI shows at least a 75% chance for victory.
The 2016 season interim coach and now head coach Ed Orgeron brought in reputable offensive coordinator Matt Canada to crank up the attack. Arguably the biggest question about the LSU offense isn’t who’s going to be the quarterback. That spot is being locked down by Danny Etling. Also, the running back spot is expected to be filled by Derrius Guice, coming in for the loss of Leonard Fournette. The question is who will be catching the football? Five of the team’s top six wide receivers are gone. D.J. Chark remains, and will be depended upon much more this season. In 2016 he snagged 26 receptions for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns. Guice was exceptional last season when called upon. While filling in for Fournette, he carried the ball 183 times for 1387 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The offensive line should have another very good year. Will Clapp makes the move from guard to center, something he’s very comfortable with. Toby Weathersby has been talked about having next level talent at tackle.
There is no doubt, LSU will match up against some strong run defenses. It is yet to be seen whether Etling and his receiving corps can pick up the slack when needed.
Dave Aranda, the defensive coordinator, did a great job in his first season at the helm. LSU finished 10th in the nation in total defense. Aranda’s defense only allowed 20 or more points per game just three times last season. All three of which were won. They held Louisville and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to just 9 points. National championship runner up Alabama was kept to only 10 points. Overall, LSU allowed an average of 16 points per game.
LSU has become well known for replacing lost talent on the defensive side of the ball. However, they lost their top 6 tacklers, including the top ranked safety and 6th overall draft pick Jamal Adams. Star inside linebackers Duke Riley and Kendall Beckwith were also taken in the draft. When a team loses a player of Jamal Adams’ caliber, they don’t replace him. They can only hope whoever steps in plays up to speed. Devin White and Donnie Alexander combine for little experience, but are projected to fill the vacancies left by Riley and Beckwith. First round pick Tre’Davious White’s replacement, Donte Jackson, has the potential to be an all-star cornerback.
Nose tackle Greg Gilmore and defensive end Christian LaCouture come back and will play a big part in the front 3 of the defense. The pass rush should be great considering Arden Key comes back solid from shoulder surgery. With him being out all offseason and not ready to go for the start of camp this season, there could leave some reason for worry. He is clearly their best player and is considered by some to have a higher ceiling than Myles Garrett who was the 1st overall pick in the draft this year. Key came up with 12 of the teams 36 sacks just a year ago. If he returns to normal, it’ll be a huge boost to LSU’s defense.
The Tigers ranked 8th in the nation among 4 major recruiting sites. The most notable recruits are 5 star safety JaCoby Stevens and 4 Star recruit nose tackle Tyler Shelvin, their top recruit from the state of Louisiana. According to 247 sports, LSU commits only 1 five star recruit, a total of 13 four star recruits and 8 three star recruits.
101st in passing offense (190 yards/game)
21st in rushing (233 yards/game)
59th in total offense (423 yards/game)
13th in run defense (117 yards/game)
23rd in passing yards allowed (197 yards/game)