In 2016, the LSU Tigers (8-4) tied for second with Auburn in the SEC West, as they went 5-3. The Tigers then played Louisville in the Citrus Bowl, winning that game 29-9. Our 2017 LSU Tigers college football preview finds that this team comes into this season depleted on defense and in the receiving ranks on offense. This may not be a banner season for these Tigers, although we do believe that they will be competitive and earn a bowl berth.
The good news is that LSU appears to have a sound offensive line. However, there are major concerns regarding the receiving unit and weaknesses at quarterback that will prove to be challenging. Partway through last season, Ed Orgeron was designated as interim coach. He went 6-2. After being officially hired after last season, he set off to recreate the offense and hired Pittsburgh coordinator Matt Canada. The point is to get the LSU offense moving and scoring more. Last year then junior QB Danny Etling replaced Brandon Harris in quarter two of the second game and won the starting spot. Etling showed improvement throughout the season and will start this year as a senior. Last season, he completed 60% of his passes, for over 2,100 yards and 11 TDs, while tossing five picks.
Senior WR D.J. Chark, who caught three TDs passes in 2016, will be a primary target. He averaged 17.9 YPC. The rest of the receiving goup is relatively unknown. TB Derrius Guice (183 ATT, 1,387 YDs, 15 TDs, 7.6 YPA) will anchor the ground attack. He’s very capable of making game-changing plays. Chark will also run with the ball at times and Guice will see a few passes tossed his way.
The LSU defense, which last season allowed a second-best SEC and 5th-ranked nationally 15.8 PPG, looks to be in fine shape. They will help to keep this team in games. Although the Tigers lost their top five tacklers, they see DE Christian LaCouture return for a fifth season after missing 2016 due to an ankle injury.
One big question is junior OLB Arden Key who last season made 12 sacks and completed 11 QBH. Key, who is coming back from shoulder injury, will miss the opener, but should be on the field soon. Also on defense, expect LB Donnie Alexander to be a factor. Junior corner Donte Jackson, who snagged two INTs and had eight PBU last year, is back, as is safety John Battle, who broke up four passes. Freshman safety JaCoby Stevens is a talented wild card who could become a starter.
Punter Josh Growden, an Australian, put 22 punts within the 20 last season while averaging 41.4 YPP. There’s a new placekicker, redshirted freshman Connor Culp. The punt return game needs to be reenergized, while the kick return squad looks solid.
2017 LSU Tigers College Football Preview: Final Word
Our 2017 LSU Tigers college football preview sees this team as being competitive as they put another fine defense on the field. How they perform this season will be determined by whether or not Canada can help to make their offense more dynamic and consistent. If he can, then LSU will most likely surprise a few teams and win an extra game or two.
The team’s opener against BYU on Sep 2 in Houston will premiere the new defense and be the start of Orgeron’s head coaching career with the Tigers. Oct 7 sees LSU at Florida for a rematch with the Gators after a controversial the Tiger team took a controversial loss in 2016. The next week, Oct 14, LSU plays a huge game at home versus division rival Auburn, and the following week on the road the Tigers play Orgeron’s former team, Ole Miss. Then on Nov 4 the Tigers are at Alabama and on Nov 18 they are at Tennessee. This year, LSU has one of the toughest schedules in college football.
Top Three Takeaways
- Etling and offense needs to improve under Canada and Orgeron
- Defense appears to be solid but injury to Key worrisome
- LSU has an extremely tough schedule