LSU football: 10 biggest questions (and answers) heading into fall camp
LSU is getting ready to report for preseason camp Aug. 1 and there are questions to be answered.
We’ll hold off on ones like, “Will the Tigers beat Alabama?” and stick with the more pressing ones that deal with position battles, players’ health and the projected impact of newcomers.
Much will be learned between the first practice Aug. 2 and the first game Aug. 31 against Georgia Southern in Tiger Stadium.
Here’s a preview of what will be on everyone’s minds and lips during that time.
1. Is Joe Brady the savior?
No, of course not.
The hiring of the former New Orleans Saints assistant as passing game coordinator has generated more buzz than anything else.
But all the NCAA records for passing and scoring are safe from LSU for another year.
Nonetheless, Brady’s up-tempo approach, usage of all eligible receivers, RPOs and commitment to identifying and exploiting the most favorable matchups on each play should at least bring the Tigers in line with the current college football norms.
Simply put, Brady’s influence should make LSU harder to defend and that should make LSU harder to beat.
2. Is Joe Burrow good enough to help lead LSU to the CFP?
Yes, but he can’t carry the Tigers there.
He seems to be a real good fit with Brady’s scheme and he showed his smarts, decision and toughness last season.
He should be better this year, not just because of Brady’s arrival but also because of his experience last season.
On occasion (2011 comes to wind) in recent years, it could be argued that limited quarterback play held LSU back. That shouldn’t be the case this season.
3. Will Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall be the next Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry?
No. But that’s OK.
All they need to do is take the talent that made them such highly regarded recruits 2 years ago and build on the progress they showed late last season and they’ll be effective complements to Justin Jefferson.
If they are left alone to be who they are and not be evaluated in comparison to what others once were, they should be fine.
4. Who will be the leading rusher?
Everyone is eager to see freshman John Emery Jr. make his debut, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire isn’t going away. Senior Lanard Fournette and sophomore Chris Curry could surprise folks in camp as could 4-star freshman Tyrion Davis-Price.
But when all is said and done, the Edwards-Helaire/Emery tandem (or the Emery/Edwards-Helaire tandem) should provide a more explosive running game than the Tigers had last season.
That should make things easier for Brady, Burrow and the passing game.
5. Who will be the missing piece on the offensive line?
Another good question.
It looks like left tackle Saahdiq Charles, center Lloyd Cushenberry and right guard Damien Lewis are set. If Austin Deculus holds off Badara Traore at right tackle, then the competition to start is limited to Andrew Magee, Chasen Hines and freshman Kardell Thomas at left guard with Magee being the favorite.
6. When will the defensive line be at full strength?
It should be full go some time in preseason camp, which sets up well for the season opener.
Rashard Lawrence, Breiden Fehoko, Tyler Shelvin have all had health issues in the last year. But they should be OK and join with Glen Logan, Neil Farrell and newcomer Apu Ika to form a deep and effective group.
7. Who will replace Devin White?
No one. And everyone.
Don’t expect any individual to make tackles at the rate White did, but no individual needs to.
Michael Divinity Jr. will start in the spot White manned last year and Divinity will be one of the team leaders. But K’Lavon Chaisson is back from knee surgery and he, Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips joined Divinity on the list of preseason candidates for the Butkus Award, won last season by White.
The linebackers will be fine.
8. Just how good is this secondary?
Really good. Like really, really good.
Ed Orgeron, the head coach of DBU, said it’s the best group he’s ever coached. Grant Delpit is one of the best college football players in America, and Kristian Fulton, Kelvin Joseph, JaCoby Stevens, Kary Vincent and highly-touted freshman Derek Stingley Jr. add to an elite group.
They’re really good.
9. Will the punt return game get fixed?
It’s bound to be better than it was last season and Stingley should make it much better.
10. Will Cade York be another Cole Tracy?
But he has the ability to be a consistently accurate kicker with adequate range.
If he comes close to matching Tracy’s accuracy last season (29-of-33), field goal kicking won’t be a concern for LSU.