Ed Orgeron’s first full season as head coach of the LSU Tigers went a little better than most expected. Most believed the sky was falling after a blowout loss to Mississippi State and embarrassing home defeat against Troy. However, the Bayou Bengals got their act together after that, winning six of their final seven games to finish the season.
LSU couldn’t quite get their 10th win, losing the Citrus Bowl to Notre Dame. However, the Tigers should be proud of road wins against Florida and Ole Miss, as well as an impressive home win against Auburn. At the end of the day, going 9-4 and 6-2 in SEC is nothing to be ashamed of.
Nevertheless, the LSU faithful expect the team to contend in the SEC West on a yearly basis. If Orgeron can’t deliver, he could find himself on the hot seat. In fact, some outlets have made him the better favorite to be the first SEC coach to be fired in 2018.
According to the oddsmakers, a national championship may not be in the cards for LSU this season. The Tigers are +6500 to win a title. There would be good value in those odds if LSU had a high ceiling this year, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Bayou Bengals are only projected to win seven games, which doesn’t show a lot of faith in them. Of course, if things break well, the Tigers are capable of eclipsing that mark.
LSU’s biggest problems last year were on offense. Orgeron admits he was at fault for hiring Matt Canada to be the offensive coordinator. The Tigers struggled to adjust to Canada’s schemes and now Orgeron has handed the offensive reigns over to Steve Ensminger, who figures to install a more pro-style offense.
Of course, the Tigers have to find the right personnel to run their new offense. Myles Brennan failed to win the quarterback position outright in the spring, and the arrival of Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow will give LSU four quarterbacks vying for the starting job when camp opens. The Tigers are also short on proven playmakers at both running back and wide receiver outside of Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles.
The Tigers will also be relying on some transfers on the defensive side of the ball to help fill some vacancies. The defensive line appears to be in good shape and should be the strength of the defense. However, there are some questions in the secondary outside of cornerback Greedy Williams, who is a star in the making.
In the unforgiving SEC, having so many unanswered questions on offense could be problematic. LSU fans should forget about the team making a surprising run to the CFP. But the defense should be able to keep them in games, and if the offense can find its way over the course of the season, LSU could get to seven or eight wins and surprise some people.
|Sep 2||Miami-Florida Hurricanes||7:30 PM|
|Sep 8||Southeastern Louisiana Lions||7:00 PM|
|Sep 15||@ Auburn Tigers||4:30 PM|
|Sep 22||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||1:00 PM|
|Sep 29||Mississippi Rebels||1:00 PM|
|Oct 6||@ Florida Gators||12:00 PM|
|Oct 13||Georgia Bulldogs||1:00 PM|
|Oct 20||Mississippi State Bulldogs||1:00 PM|
|Nov 3||Alabama Crimson Tide||1:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Arkansas Razorbacks||1:00 PM|
|Nov 17||Rice Owls||1:00 PM|
|Nov 24||@ Texas A&M Aggies||1:00 PM|
LSU does not have the most favorable schedule in the world, especially early in the season. They begin with a neutral-site game against the Miami Hurricanes and then head to Auburn the third week of the season. Both are potential losses, especially if they can’t shore up their offense during training camp. Trips to Florida and Texas A&M also pose difficult games for the Tigers.
If there’s a bright side, LSU will get Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama at home. However, those three games will come all in a row. Also, playing at home may not be enough against three of the best teams in the conference. The Tigers may be fortunate if they can steal a win in just one of those games.
Unless, the Tigers are able to start fast, winning seven or eight games may be the best-case scenario in 2018. Being a contender in the SEC West is hard to envision. In fact, LSU should worry about just getting to a bowl game this season before they start thinking about loftier goals.