SEC Team Preview Series: LSU
Welcome to WNSP’s preview series to get you ready for SEC and Sunbelt Media Days. Each day, we will preview a new team in each conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: The LSU Tigers
Players to watch:
Offense: Whoever wins the QB Battle, WR Kayshon Boutte, RB John Emery Jr.
Defense: CB Mekhi Garner, S Jay Ward, DT Jaquelin Roy
O/U Win Line: 6.5
Dave Schultz’s Pick: Over
Mark Heim’s Pick: Under
Lee Shirvanian’s Pick: Over
Nick Wiggins’ Pick: Under
Michael Brauner’s Pick: Under
Of this entire preview series so far, forecasting the outlook of this LSU team may have been the most difficult prediction to make. On one hand, I believe Brian Kelly is a great coach and will begin to lay a foundation for success in years to come in Baton Rouge. On the other hand, this roster is seeing more turnover from last year to this year than perhaps any other team in the conference.
But is a complete hit of the reset button just going to be for the best for a team that went 6-6 last season and has gone 11-12 overall since their undefeated 2019? The administration certainly felt so, parting ways with the beloved Ed Orgeron just two seasons removed from his overseeing of one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport. In one of the most shocking coaching moves in recent college football history, LSU brought in former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly to replace him, a move that was met with mixed opinions.
No one doubts that Kelly can coach, but his fit with the culture in Louisiana has been questioned. As someone who moved to Alabama from New Jersey and chose to stay after graduating school, I absolutely believe Kelly can ingratiate himself in Baton Rouge. And once he starts to win football games, there is not a person who wears purple and gold who would give a damn even if he was from Mars. But winning football games with this roster will not be easy in 2022.
Let’s start at quarterback. The two most likely options to win the job are sixth-year senior Myles Brennan who has missed a ton of time due to injury as well as Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels, who adds a mobile element that not many others possess. The Tigers have some freshman options as well, but the week one starter against Florida State will probably be one of these two. LSU also has arguably the best receiver in the nation returning in Kayshon Boutte along with electric running back John Emery Jr. returning after missing all of 2021 due to academic probation. There are question marks along the offensive line as well as tight end, however.
On defense, the turnover is even more apparent, with Jay Ward as one of the only returning players in the secondary. Mekhi Gardner transfers in from Louisiana Lafayette to try to ease the loss of Derrick Stingley, and Jaquelin Roy is back to help plug up the middle, along with a few other returners along the front seven, but the question marks at secondary will ultimately determine this team’s ceiling.
Before LSU heads to Auburn week five, they take on Florida State in New Orleans followed by Southern, Mississippi State at home, and New Mexico. They really should start 4-0 or 3-1 at worse before their schedule gets tough. At Florida, at Arkansas, and at Texas A&M are the road highlights of the schedule, while also hosting Alabama, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.
With this brutal of a schedule, though I struggled with this pick, I am going to take the Tigers at 6-6. But if everything clicks for coach Kelly and the Tigers in year one, I will not be surprised if they finished with 8 wins.