LSU football: Projecting the Tigers' 2021 starting lineup
LSU lost all kinds of starters off its 2019 national championship team.
It lost some to the 2020 NFL Draft, it lost some during the preseason, it lost some during the season.
But 2021 is looking a lot different.
The Tigers are losing just 4 starters from the 2020 season, and that counts 2 on offense – wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and tight end Arik Gilbert – who left during the season. (Stay tuned with Gilbert, however. He reportedly has asked LSU about returning.)
Even without Marshall and Gilbert, the Tigers are returning nearly all the starters from an offense that ranked 5th in the SEC in total offense (433.9) and 6th in scoring (32.0).
On the other side of the ball LSU ranked 13th in total defense (492.0) and 11th in scoring defense (34.9).
The Tigers are losing just 2 defensive starters – good ones in linebacker Jabril Cox and safety JaCoby Stevens. There are two ways of looking at that – the return of experienced players is helpful on a unit that made a lot of youthful mistakes a year ago, but the return of that many starters from that bad a unit isn’t necessarily encouraging.
Nonetheless, the continuity from 2020 to 2021 will be much greater than it was from 2019 to 2020, and the arrival of a highly-regarded recruiting class provides hope for a better season being on the horizon.
Here’s a projection for LSU’s 2021 starting lineup:
- QB: Myles Brennan
- RB: Tyrion Davis-Price
- WR1: Kayshon Boutte
- WR2: Jaray Jenkins
- WR3: Koy Moore
- LT: Cameron Wire
- LG: Ed Ingram
- C: Liam Shanahan
- RG: Chasen Hines
- RT: Austin Deculus
- TE: Kole Taylor*
Skinny: The offensive line is definitely a work in progress.
The offseason announcements that Ingram, Shanahan, Hines and Deculus were returning were a big boost to a line that struggled last season and was in danger of being seriously depleted.
The future of LT Dare Rosenthal, who was suspended early last season and reinstated late in the season, is in limbo. He’s potentially a starter at left tackle, but he has been non-committal on returning.
Head coach Ed Orgeron hopes to add multiple offensive linemen in the late signing period, perhaps including a graduate transfer who could challenge Shanahan for a starting position.
Davis-Price will compete with fellow rising junior John Emery Jr., and a deep receiving corps could undergo some shuffling between now and the start of next season. Obviously that group becomes more dangerous if Gilbert returns and bumps Taylor out of this projected starting lineup.
Myles Brennan certainly played well enough to keep the starting quarterback job, but the battle with Max Johnson will dominate spring camp storylines.
- DE: Ali Gaye
- DT: Neil Farrell Jr.
- DT: Glen Logan
- DE: Andre Anthony
- OLB: Micah Baskerville
- MLB: Navonteque Strong
- OLB: Damone Clark
- CB: Derek Stingley Jr.
- S: Todd Harris Jr.
- S: Maurice Hampton Jr.
- CB: Eli Ricks
Skinny: The defensive line returns a significant degree of experience and B.J. Ojulari will be factor at DE/OLB as he was last season.
Strong, a JUCO transfer, is the newcomer with the best opportunity to start.
If Cordale Flott isn’t able to unseat Ricks as a starting cornerback, he should still see significant playing time in the secondary as should Jay Ward, who made some big plays in a reserve role last season.
Final thought …
LSU should be better in 2021.
The offense was good last season and should be even better next season if Brennan can stay healthy and the offensive line can maintain continuity, allowing a bevy of talented ball carriers and receivers to thrive.
The defense was bad last season, but if the Tigers’ next coordinator (they thought they had Ryan Nielsen, but he decided to stay with the New Orleans Saints) can do a better job of getting a more experienced group to understand and execute his schemes than former coordinator Bo Pelini did with his, then the defense can be much improved.
The 2020 Tigers had nowhere to go but down and they plummeted. The 2021 Tigers are poised to ascend.