5 observations from LSU’s first 10 games
LSU is 8-2 after its 24-17 victory Saturday night at Arkansas.
It’s No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
A 10-win regular season and a berth in a significant bowl game are easily attainable.
That’s the bottom line and there are good things and bad things that go into that.
Here are five observations from LSU’s first 10 games:
1. The LSU offense is still the LSU offense
Matt Canada is gone and Steve Ensminger is the coordinator.
Danny Etling graduated, Joe Burrow came in and Myles Brennan faded into the background.
Nick Brossette and Clyde Edward-Helaire are not Leonard Fournette and Darius Guice.
Yeah, the names have changed and there have been promises about the offense changing.
But at the end of the day nothing has really changed.
The Tigers like to line up and run right at you as the staple of their offense. It works pretty well against everybody except Alabama.
Their quarterback play is average, their wide receivers are less productive than their talent level suggests and the passing game is pretty mundane.
It’s good enough to win most games, but not good enough to make the Tigers a serious national championship contender.
In other words, same ole, same ole.
2. The defensive line isn’t as good as hoped
The unit is good, all right. A lot of teams would like to have it.
But there was hope in the preseason that this defensive line was going to be elite, maybe rank among the special ones that helped the Tigers win two national championships in the past 15 years.
It hasn’t worked out that way.
Some bumps and bruises have slowed some guys down, and maybe the thought of this being a really special line was based more on hope that any realistic expectation.
Nonetheless, it’s very good and a key factor in this team’s success.
3. LSU needs John Emery Jr. or someone comparable
Emery is the top high school running back in Louisiana and one of the best in the country.
He plays in LSU’s backyard in Destrehan. The Tigers want him. He recently de-committed from Georgia, so he’s available.
LSU doesn’t have an elite running back. Its starter, Nick Brossette, is a senior.
The Tigers need to sign a running back who can come in next season and be the next 1,000-yard rusher.
Maybe it’s Emery. Maybe someone else.
But the 2019 LSU Tigers need a stud running back. And he’s not on the roster right now.
4. Tigers need a return specialist
While they’re at it, the Tigers need to sign a big-time punt returner and/or kick returner.
Maybe it’ll be the same guy they bring in at running back or maybe it’ll be someone else.
But LSU hasn’t made any significant plays in the return game. With this level of skill players, someone should make some big plays in the return game, especially given the overall improvement of the Tigers’ special teams this season.
5. Dave Aranda is worth every penny
LSU’s defensive coordinator is the highest-paid assistant coach in the country.
Each week we are reminded why.
The Tigers defense isn’t perfect. In fact it’s not even the best defense in the country.
But week in and week out the LSU defense plays at or very near its best. It’s well prepared for each opponent. It generally gets better as games go along.
Most significant, it is the primary reason that a team that was understandably ranked No. 25 in the preseason AP poll is No. 7 in the country in the CFP rankings with two games left in the regular season.
Aranda’s defense gives head coach Ed Orgeron’s team a chance to win every game against anyone other than Alabama and nearly always the Tigers prevail.
When they win it’s usually in spite of the offense and because of the defense.
And that’s mostly because of Aranda.