The 10 worst things that have happened to LSU this season
A lot of stuff has gone wrong for LSU this season.
Important players have quit the team.
The schedule has been rearranged for a variety of reasons.
And the Tigers have just played some bad football much of the time.
They are 3-4 as they prepare to host No. 1 Alabama in a rescheduled game Saturday night.
Here are the 10 worst things to happen to LSU this season (subject to developments):
10. The rescheduling of the Alabama game
Since it’s Alabama week, let’s start there.
It doesn’t matter when LSU plays Alabama this season. Or where. Or anything else.
This is a mismatch.
The Tigers are coming off their best defensive performance of the season against Texas A&M, which might seem better than playing Nov. 14 as originally scheduled and coming off an open date after the 48-11 debacle at Auburn.
But while LSU might be getting marginally better, Alabama has been getting better and better by the week for more than a month.
The first weekend of December is not a good time for anybody to play the surging Crimson Tide – especially LSU.
9. The arrival of Sam Pittman and Lane Kiffin
Arkansas is much improved in Pittman’s first season as head coach. Ole Miss is much improved in Kiffin’s first season as head coach.
LSU got past Arkansas 2 weeks ago while Pittman was sidelined by COVID. They presumably will play Ole Miss in the season finale on Dec. 19.
The Tigers’ slippage this season is magnified by the ascension of both Arkansas (3-5) and Ole Miss (4-4) in the SEC West standings.
8. Dare Rosenthal’s suspension
LSU’s starting left tackle was suspended before the 4th game of the season. He was recently reinstated, but his absence disrupted the continuity of an offensive line that lost 4 starters from last year’s team.
The Tigers have mostly run the ball poorly this season and the pass protection has been inconsistent.
The sporadic play of the offensive line has prevented the offense from developing as quickly as it might have otherwise.
7. Hurricane Delta
COVID issues haven’t been the only cause of schedule changes for LSU.
The threat of Hurricane Delta to the Baton Rouge area caused the game against Missouri to be moved from Tiger Stadium to Faurot Field.
Home-field advantage isn’t the same this year with empty or mostly empty stadiums, but this young LSU team, playing its 3rd game of the season, came up short in 4 tries to score a go-ahead touchdown from the 1 on the final 4 plays of the game.
The comfort of being at home instead of the road as well as avoiding the disruption of the change being made 74 hours before kickoff might have made a difference in a game that close.
6. Kary Vincent and Tyler Shelvin opting out
The Tigers have been bad on defense almost the entire season.
They lost most of their defensive starters from last season. Losing 2 more starters as the Tigers were preparing to start the season made them even less talented, less experienced and more vulnerable.
5. Florida postponement
Things probably would have gone badly for LSU had this game been played as scheduled in Week 4.
But now the Tigers will visit the No. 6 Gators a week after facing Alabama.
The gauntlet of playing 3 Top 6 teams in consecutive weeks (starting with Texas A&M) isn’t likely to produce a positive stretch run.
4. Terrace Marshall Jr.’s about-face
LSU already endured multiple significant opt-outs before Marshall announced Sunday he was leaving the team.
But his departure came less than 2 weeks after he tried to motivate his teammates to finish strong by citing himself as an example of fighting through the tough times until the end.
Some teammates are bound to be disillusioned by the change of heart and now the Tigers will finish the season without their most productive offensive player.
3. Myles Brennan’s injury
LSU lost 2 of the 3 games that Brennan played before being sidelined by an abdominal injury, but he gave them a fighting chance.
The offense isn’t the same with TJ Finley or Max Johnson playing quarterback.
2. The disastrous defense
Head coach Ed Orgeron said this young defense under first-year coordinator Bo Pelini could develop into a better one than the defense that helped the Tigers win the national championship last season.
Boy was he wrong.
Losing Vincent and Shelvin hurt. Derek Stingley Jr. being hospitalized and unavailable for the season-opener left the secondary vulnerable and its confidence was shattered by Mississippi State of all people.
But those losses don’t come close to explaining the disparity between Orgeron’s projection and the performance of Pelini’s defense, which has been the worst by an LSU defense in recent memory and historically bad on occasion.
The defense is starting to show improvement, but the damage already has been done to this season.
1. Ja’Marr Chase
LSU didn’t just lose its best offensive player, it lost the best wide receiver in the country when Chase opted out shortly before the season.
Brennan, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan all lost their biggest asset.
The Tigers lost an important leader.
And Chase’s departure sent the message that in 2020, it’s every man for himself.