LSU football: 8 bold predictions for the rest of the Tigers’ season
LSU is entering Alabama week.
Usually that means one of the biggest games of the SEC season. Often, it has had championship implications in the SEC and nationally.
But this season is different for the disappointing Tigers.
LSU comes out of its open date with a 4-4 record, 2-3 in the conference. In its last game, it was beaten by Ole Miss, 31-17.
Now comes the stretch run, beginning with the No. 3 Crimson Tide on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Then comes a string of home games against Arkansas, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas A&M.
Here are 8 bold predictions for the rest of the Tigers’ season:
1. Cade York will do something memorable
The Tigers’ kicker — perhaps the best in the country — has had a relatively quiet season.
That’s mostly because he hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities. He has tried just 10 field goals and didn’t try any in 4 games.
His 55-yarder against Ole Miss faded right and ended a streak of 18 consecutive field goals made.
He already has made the 3 longest field goals in school history. Maybe he’ll make the 4th-longest, or surpass all 3, or maybe just make a whole bunch in 1 game.
But the law of averages says he’ll get more opportunities down the stretch than he has been.
And he’ll make the most of them.
2. At least 1 more player will enter the transfer portal
Two Tigers have entered the transfer portal recently, receiver Koy Moore and linebacker Bugg Strong.
LSU has been hit hard by defections during the last 2-plus years. Some left early for the NFL, others transferred.
No one knows what to expect once a new coach takes over for Ed Orgeron. Someone — probably more than 1 player — will seek greener pastures.
3. Sage Ryan will open eyes
The freshman defensive back was a 5-star recruit. He was poised to see significant playing time, or maybe even start at the beginning of the season, but he got hurt.
He’s back and has played in 2 games. He hasn’t had a huge impact — yet.
As Ryan gets healthier and more confident, he’ll have the impact that was expected before the injury. He’ll bring much-needed help to an injury-plagued secondary and provide a bright spot heading into the offseason.
4. Damone Clark will be the most decorated Tiger
Yes, the primary preseason candidates for individual honors — Derek Stingley Jr., Kayshon Boutte, Eli Ricks and Ali Gaye — have essentially been disqualified by season-ending injuries.
But Clark will earn this distinction, not receive it by default.
The senior linebacker has been LSU’s best player during the first two-thirds of the season. He has gotten progressively better.
Clark will continue to have a big impact, and he will be recognized on all-star teams.
5. Quarterback uncertainty returns
Myles Brennan, TJ Finley and Max Johnson all started at QB last season.
Finley transferred to Auburn. Brennan was the presumed starter, but he got hurt right before the start of preseason camp and hasn’t played. Maybe he’ll play in November. Maybe he won’t.
Johnson has started every game. He has had some good moments and some bad ones. Mostly, he has done okay without getting a whole lot of help.
Freshman Garrett Nussmeier has shown potential in mop-up duty. Next season, Nussmeier could push Johnson — and Brennan, if he chooses to return.
Five-star commitment Walker Howard is coming in, but he was recently sidelined by a broken leg.
A new head coach and a new offensive coordinator are on their way, but no one knows who they will be.
Coming out of the season, the quarterback picture is the cloudiest it has been in a while. It could get even cloudier if a transfer comes in.
6. Another surprising win
The win against Florida 2 games ago was one of the bigger upsets of the SEC season.
LSU will be favored against ULM but will be an underdog in each of its remaining SEC games. The Tigers are missing a lot of key players, their depth is down to next to nothing and the head coach is a lame duck.
But this team still has a pretty good amount of talent. It showed that, and its pride, in beating the Gators.
It will muster one more unexpected performance and get another SEC upset.
We’re looking at you, Arkansas.
7. Tigers go bowling — barely
That upset win against Arkansas, followed by a victory against ULM, will get the Tigers bowl-eligible at 6-6. But bowls won’t be tripping over themselves to invite a mediocre team with a lame-duck coach.
Still, the Birmingham Bowl will extend LSU’s season.
8. A new coach by mid-November
The search for Orgeron’s replacement is well under way.
A lot of candidates are busy with college seasons, and perhaps some with NFL seasons.
Athletic director Scott Woodward knows the importance of getting an agreement with a new coach as soon as possible. Certainly, he wants a new coach as soon as the regular season ends against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving weekend.
But that’s not Woodward’s ideal scenario.
Look for him to have his man a week or two before that.