LSU looks to replace four early departures
After Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams and Davon Godchaux decided to skip their senior seasons, wide receiver Malachi Dupre became LSU’s final early departure on Friday.
Dupre released a statement announcing his intentions of leaving the school. Part of it stated, “It is time to part ways with the great place I have called home for the past three years for now, but LSU, every ending has a new beginning, and that new beginning for me is pursuing another dream of mine—and that is to play in the National Football League. So after long thought and consideration, I will be declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft.”
The departures of these players were not surprises, but they will test the Tigers’ depth in 2017, none the less.
On the surface, the loss of Fournette actually seems to be the least impactful for LSU as Derrius Guice heads into 2017 as the Tigers’ feature back.
Guice was phenomenal this season as he filled in for a hobbled Fournette. Though he only started five games, he ended the year as the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He finished with a whopping 7.6 yards per carry and set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single game with 286 against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night.
Guice will head into 2017 as one of the best backs in the country and a serious Heisman contender, but there is uncertainty as to whom will take over as the No. 2 back.
Darrel Williams only had 52 carries this past season. Coming off of a torn ACL, Nick Brossette was limited to just 15 carries.
Dupre’s departure will also add uncertainty to the LSU receiving corps.
He was the Tigers’ leading receiver this season with 41 catches for 593 yards and three scores. This included a seven-catch, 139-yard effort against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl.
D.J. Chark had a breakout junior season as he averaged 17.9 yards per catch, but with Dupre and senior Travin Dural gone, the Tigers will be infusing significant inexperience into the lineup.
Receivers Tyron Johnson, Trey Quinn, John Diarse and Jazz Ferguson have all transferred. This makes Dee Anderson LSU’s second-leading wideout to return. Anderson only had four caches in 2016.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they will bring in the top-ranked junior college receiver in Stephen Guidry, along with new offensive coordinator Matt Canda.
Canada has a knack for getting the best out of his players. In his one season with Pittsburgh, the Panthers averaged over 40 points per game.
The impact of the early departures will be felt the most on the LSU defense.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the Tigers only gave up 16 touchdowns in 2016. That was the best of any team in the country.
Their performance against Louisville in the Citrus Bowl was spectacular. The Cardinals were averaging 45 points per game coming into the contest, but they were only able to muster 9 points against he Tigers.
Heisman winner Lamar Jackson was held to just 186 total yards and no touchdowns.
Godchaux was a huge reason why LSU was so good up front as he piled up 62 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Though, the Tigers are deep on the defensive line. Christian LaCouture, Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron and Rashard Lawrence will all be back to pick up the slack.
It’s Adams’ departure that will have the biggest impact defensively. The versatile safety was not just a strong presence for the Tigers in the passing game, but he was one of their best run-stoppers as well.
It won’t help that senior safeties Dwayne Thomas and Rickey Jefferson will also be gone.
The Tigers will be depending heavily on John Battle to step up in Adams’ place. Battle saw plenty of action during the latter stages of the season after Jefferson went down with a broken fibula.
LSU will be bringing in the No. 1 safety prospect in the country, according to 247sports.com. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Jacoby Stevens is an early enrolee for the Tigers that could make an immediate impact as a freshman.
Both Adams and former All-American Eric Reid became starters in the LSU secondary as true freshmen.