2020 Season Preview: The LSU Tigers
Over the course of the next several weeks, the SoBros Network crew will be going around the landscape of the SEC, team by team, previewing the upcoming American tackle football season. Up first, our 2020 LSU preview!
2020 LSU Preview
The 2019 LSU Tigers were probably the greatest college football team I’ve ever seen. This team went 15-0 en route to a National Championship. They won the SEC with a historic offense that NO ONE could keep pace with. Joe Burrow one the Heisman Trophy, and went on to become the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. It was certainly a spectacle to behold – but the question for Ed Orgeron and his staff in Baton Rouge now becomes, “how do we get anywhere remotely near that again?”
One thing I love about Coach O that should instill a great confidence about his ability to rebuild a contender in Baton Rouge is his willingness to change and adapt to the game. That 2019 Coach O was most definitely NOT the Coach O of old.
Obviously, the big questions on offense for the Tigers come at the quarterback position and on the offensive coaching staff. LSU loses their passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, to the Carolina Panthers, after Brady was heralded week after week as the grand architect of that historic offense. Scott Linehan fills that void, working alongside offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. Coach O is no doubt hoping this group has the same vision and chemistry as it did in 2019.
At quarterback, Myles Brennan is stepping into an impossible role. How do you follow what Burrow did? He has the benefit of being in the LSU program for the last three years. But, that also means we haven’t really caught a glimpse of him as “the guy” yet. He’s going to be one of the more scrutinized players in all of college football in 2020.
I don’t want to get Tigers fans’ hopes up, but y’know…the media wasn’t exactly too kind to Burrow either before he went on a run for the ages. I’m not saying Brennan can do that – I’m just saying maybe you guys shouldn’t always listen to us (*wink wink*).
The offense is also losing Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Justin Jefferson to the NFL. Not to mention, they’re only returning one starter on the offensive line. There will be plenty of opportunity for guys to step up, as this offense undergoes a massive overhaul. 2020 figures to be the Ja’Marr Chase show – the electric wide receiver is without a shadow of a doubt the key cog on this offense heading into 2020. Some scouts suggest he could be the first receiver off the board next Spring.
On defense, it’s more of the same. I guess that’ll happen when you go 15-0 and win a National Championship. Other schools start hiring your coaches and players get drafted to the NFL. Dave Aranda is off to be the head coach at Baylor, so the prodigal son, Bo Pelini, is returning to LSU to serve as defensive coordinator. His first order of business? Switching that defense to a 4-3.
It sounds crazy, but this might be a good thing. There was so much turnover on the LSU defense, that it’s virtually going to be an entirely different unit than it was in 2019. If you’re essentially starting from scratch, maybe you don’t have to worry about guys un-learning the old defense to learn something new? Just a thought – but man, the NFL robbed the cupboard bare. First round linebackers, pass rushers, defensive backs all around.
All in all, the 2020 LSU Tigers’ success is going to be predicated on how well and how quickly all of these changes come together.
2020 Tigers Schedule
9/5 vs. UTSA – Well, you won’t find a much better opportunity at a preseason game than this one.
9/12 vs. Texas – The Longhorns could prove tricky if the Tigers haven’t quite figured things out by then. I still don’t see a more talented LSU team losing at home in this spot.
9/19 vs. Rice (NRG Stadium in Houston) – It’s a nice idea, Rice fans…but…..nope.
9/26 vs. Ole Miss – I just don’t see the Rebels being ready to win this one in their first year with Lane Kiffin as head coach.
10/3 vs. Nicholls – Another convenient tune-up for a big game. The Tigers should head into the Florida game at 5-0.
10/10 @ Florida – This is a huge test for the Tigers, and it just so happens to be their first SEC road game of the year. I dare say this game is going to dictate how the season ends for ’em. If they lose this one, they’re going to be in a tough spot as they traverse the rest of their SEC West schedule. But, if they win, it could be the springboard to another special season.
10/17 @ Arkansas – See Ole Miss, but like….times infinity.
10/24 vs. Mississippi State – I’m eager to see what kind of noise Mike Leach can make in the SEC, but I just don’t think he’ll have the Bulldogs ready to steal this one.
10/31 – BYE
11/7 vs. Alabama – It’s a game that could very well determine the SEC West – stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Getting it in Baton Rouge this year is huge, but with the Crimson Tide, you just never know.
11/14 vs. South Carolina – We saw the Gamecocks upset Georgia a year ago, so why not LSU in 2020? They catch ’em in between a massive game against Alabama and road trips to Auburn and Texas A&M. Maybe they should be on upset alert in this spot?
11/21 @ Auburn – The other Tigers in the SEC West figure to be pretty damn good in 2020. This is going to be a tough one, especially late in the season. The bright side? By this point, the Tigers should have the kinks worked out and would hopefully be operating as a well-oiled machine.
11/28 @ Texas A&M – Boy, if you’re a Tigers fan, you absolutely have to hate the way this 2020 schedule ends. Two of the last four are on the road against quality Auburn and Texas A&M teams, they draw Alabama, and a South Carolina team that knocked off Georgia a year ago (don’t you dare laugh at me bringing that up). Not what I would call an ideal back four.
The talent is there on offense, and there’s some promising pieces on defense, too – the concern is most definitely about how all of the new parts will gel together.
I hate the way this schedule concludes, though. Back-to-back road trips against teams that figure to be in the hunt in the SEC West doesn’t stack up well for this team. Alabama is beatable, but that’s always a tough game, and I don’t think they’re going to the swamp and beating Florida this year. Not to mention, a Week 2 showdown with Texas could prove difficult for a team that’s still ironing out. I could easily see them winning three or four of those games. Dare I say they could lose all five of those games?!?! I wouldn’t be surprised if it swung either way.
It’s looking like a year of uncertainty for the transitioning Tigers, but keep in mind what I said at the beginning of this preview – Coach O should have your confidence in instilling a winning culture in Baton Rouge, and that may be the foundation upon which sustained success is built upon. My gun-to-the-head prediction for 2020 is 9-3 with a chance at a 10th win in a big bowl game.
Other 2020 Season Previews
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley