LSU owns one of the nation’s most talented rosters, but key question marks remain for Les Miles’ team in 2015. Will the offense take a step forward after ranking 13th in the SEC in scoring last season? Getting better play from its quarterbacks would help, but the Tigers finished spring with uncertainty under center. On defense, LSU has a new coordinator in Kevin Steele and needs to revive a pass rush that registered only 19 sacks in 2014.
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Previewing LSU’s Offense for 2015
Another spring in Baton Rouge and another quarterback controversy after 2014 provided little to no clarity in the race between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Coach Les Miles said the two quarterbacks split the snaps in the spring but indicated that Jennings — who completed only 49 percent of his passes last season — had the upper hand in closed scrimmages. Maturity issues and a failure to learn the playbook plagued Harris last season, and he’s admitted as much. Jennings heads into the fall as the frontrunner, but the position is far from settled.
Miles claims that tailback Leonard Fournette is bigger and stronger after almost a full year in the Tigers’ strength and conditioning program, so expect the Tigers to abandon the committee approach and allow the former five-star recruit to handle the majority of the work. He is poised for a huge season.
Poor quarterback play limited the production of a young but talented group of wide receivers. Travin Dural, who led the team with 37 receptions for 758 yards, was the only Tiger to catch more than 17 passes in 2014. Malachi Dupre, a top recruit in 2014, is poised for a breakout season if he can stay healthy.
The Tigers lose two valuable members of their offensive line but are well-equipped to move forward without taking a step back. Jerald Hawkins has the unenviable task of replacing three-year starter La’el Collins at left tackle. Hawkins has started every game he’s played at LSU but now must shift from right to left tackle.
Previewing LSU’s Defense for 2015
The moniker “DB U.” is tossed around Baton Rouge as each new crop of defensive backs expects to be as good as their past teammates now in the NFL. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, the leader of not only the secondary but also the entire defense, is bringing along Ed Paris and early enrollee Kevin Toliver II to carry on the tradition. “We’re still DB U. It’s just different cats,” Paris said during the spring. Jalen Mills, a former Freshman All-American as a cornerback, and Jamal Adams will form a dynamic safety duo in what figures to be one of the most talented secondaries in the SEC.
Issues surrounded the inexperienced LSU defensive line from the start in 2014 as an endless rotation of players made it difficult for the unit to have any continuity. Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux have settled in nicely at defensive tackle, but there is concern at defensive end. With new coordinator Kevin Steele’s experience in a 3-4 base defense, the Tigers may play more three-man fronts as they continue to search for playmaking ends.
The insertion of true freshman Kendell Beckwith into the lineup at Florida ignited the LSU linebacker corps, a unit maligned during much of 2014 for its inability to play sideline to sideline. Beckwith, the team’s second-leading tackler in 2014, brings a youthful energy and a ton of athleticism to the middle linebacker spot.
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Previewing LSU’s Specialists for 2015
The once-automatic Colby Delahoussaye struggled late in his sophomore season, missing three of his final four attempts. He will battle classmate Trent Domingue for the placekicking duties in preseason camp. Jamie Keehn returns as the Tigers’ punter.
It’s pretty simple: LSU needs much better play from the quarterback position in 2015. Whoever gets the starting nod must improve on an anemic passing attack that failed to throw for more than 150 yards in seven of eight SEC games. Fournette is a star, but he can’t carry an entire offense on those broad shoulders. The defense, led by a top-flight secondary, will be strong — if not elite like LSU defenses of the recent past. The Tigers are talented enough to be a factor in the rugged SEC West — only if the passing offense improves.