August 21, 2018 7:47:13 AM
I knew there was uneasy on the bayou about this team and I understood why, but after looking into it, unease is the perfect word for how I feel.
When's the last time you genuinely wondered if LSU was going to be good at running back?
They've earned the benefit of the doubt at that position, so I won't go too far, but I can also see how this might not be LSU's typical rushing attack. Don't believe me? LSU's top four rushers last year were a junior running back that went to the draft, a senior running back, a senior wide receiver and Danny Etling. I rest my case.
While the running back crew is hoping for production from youth, the rest of the offensive skill positions are relying on transfers. That is most apparent in wide receiver Jonathan Giles, a Texas Tech transfer that caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016 as a Red Raider.
It's possible the Tigers do the same at quarterback with Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow. Of course, Myles Brennan has something to say about that, as that battle rages on to this day and beyond, but it's still quite interesting that two transfers could prove to be LSU's two biggest offensive weapons.
However, much like running back, LSU has some younger options waiting in the wings. At wide receiver that's Stephen Sullivan, Derrick Dillon and Drake Davis; at tight end that's N.C. State transfer Thaddeus Moss. (Think about pass catchers with that last name for a second, you might think of Thaddeus' father.)
There was some optimism about the offensive line, but it's been mellowed a bit as Ed Ingram has remained under an indefinite team suspension. There are still some strong spots with Saadhiq Charles and Garrett Brumfield and JUCO addition Badara Traore.
Real shocker here, LSU is probably going to have a really good secondary. Outside of that....time will tell. Let's call it promising but unproven.
That secondary is anchored by John Battle and Grant Delpit: they were third and fourth in tackles and Delpit had eight pass breakups. Cornerback Greedy Williams is getting some first round buzz, leaving LSU with one corner spot to fill to make a solid starting group.
The other two units have unquestioned leaders in defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence and linebacker Devin White, both returning after productive 2017 seasons. This defense could be made or broke by what happens around them.
At linebacker, you're looking at the most LSU possible option: really talented youngsters, such as Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen, plus junior Michael Divinity Jr. On the defensive line, those guys are K'Lavon Chaisson, JUCO transfer Travez Moore, Glen Logan, Tyler Shelvin, etc.
On the defensive line, a big piece to watch is yet another Texas Tech transfer, Breiden Fehoko.
Both kicking and punting were quite the adventure for LSU last year, to the point that the Tigers added grad transfer kicker Cole Tracy from Assumption College, a Division II school. The same names are involved there and there are no notable additions to the punter group, so the Tigers best develop or be bad in the kicking game again.
They also have to find a punt returner, but at least
I used the word unease at the top, which is defined as, "anxiety or discontent." It doesn't mean things are undeniably bad, but it does mean they could certainly be that way.
Things could be bad in Baton Rouge. Maybe another year of poor quarterback play comes and goes. Maybe this is a growing pains year for so many defensive pieces. Maybe the kicking game continues to be a disaster.
Things could be perfectly fine in Baton Rouge. Maybe all that young defensive talent is ready to go from Day One. Maybe the offensive line figures things out and compensates for green running backs. Maybe the quarterback is a revelation and Giles proves to be awesome.
Anxiety is on tap.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson