SDS kicks off a series looking in-depth at teams and their biggest subplots heading into 2014. Next up: LSU Tigers.

SEC Subplots 2014:

1. “Unknown”
Les Miles was recently asked to describe his team in one word, and the word he used couldn’t have been better: unknown. The Tigers are unknown, and they could be the SEC’s biggest wildcard. Loaded with talent, most figure the Tigers are due for a rebuilding season. After all, losing a 3,000-yard passer, 1,400-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers is tough to replace in just one season, but make no mistake about it, LSU is one of the country’s most talented teams. It may be unproven talent, but it’s talent. And with talent, coaches always have a chance. With Auburn playing a brutal schedule and Alabama having multiple question marks, it’s not out of the scenario that LSU wins the division, but it’s also not out of the question that LSU takes a step back with so much young talent.

2. QB battle
Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are deadlocked in a quarterback battle that wasn’t settled during spring, and it won’t be settled during fall camp. Miles said both quarterbacks will probably play this week, and the starter won’t be known to the public and media until game day, although either Harris or Jennings will know two days before game time. Regardless, both quarterbacks are going to play against Wisconsin, and both quarterbacks could see time well into the season. Whichever signal caller has a signature moment first will likely win the job. When will that be?

3. Star freshmen
It’s one of the most used storylines in college football: LSU’s freshmen should be incredible. Everyone’s excited about Leonard Fournette, Brandon Harris and Malachi Dupre, but I’m especially excited about all-purpose weapon Trey Quinn, who doesn’t get near the hype as the other three. Quinn is a freak, and he can play multiple positions at receiver and even in the backfield to make defenses account for him every single play. All four freshmen will be counted on in a big way, and there’s little time to let them develop. Throw them into the fire and see which ones make plays and prove they are worthy of more touches.

4. Looking for that swagger
Since Les Miles took over, he’s always had that one player on defense who sets the tone: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Minter and Sam Montgomery. We could go on and on, but nobody emerged last season to fill that role. Will anybody fill it this season? Most thought Craig Loston would fill it last year, or even Jemauria Rasco, but this season it should be Danielle Hunter. Have you seen him lately? He looks like the Incredible Hulk, and he should set the tone and give the defense an identity. Along with a strong front four and maybe the SEC’s top secondary, the linebacker rotation is starting to fill out. Kendell Beckwith could be the missing link to take the Tigers’ linebacking corps to another level. We know John Chavis will put an elite product on the field, and don’t you dare sleep on LSU’s NFL-filled defense.

SDS Takeaway: Can LSU win the division? Yes. The beautiful thing about this season is that Alabama returns to Tiger Stadium, and that’s always a toss up, no matter the records or returning talent. Despite lack of proven talent, the biggest obstacle is the first obstacle: Wisconsin. The Tigers can essentially help eliminate the Big Ten from the College Football Playoff by beating the Badgers, and can you imagine if that happened with freshmen at quarterback, running back and two wide receiver spots? LSU is slammed with talent, but are they ready to help bring a division championship?