LSU heads into 2018 with plenty of question marks

Kyle Riviere
The Tiger defense will be led by pre-season All-American linebacker Devin White. Photo courtesy of

The progression of August takes us just that much closer to the start of the LSU football season.

And when it comes to 2018, you'd be hard-pressed to find an upcoming season in recent memory with more uncertainties facing the Tiger program.

There have been some widespread changes in Baton Rouge ever since LSU's defusing bowl loss to Notre Dame back on New Year's Day.

Coordinator Matt Canada is out after just one year of pulling the strings for the Tiger offense. In his place comes Steve Ensminger--who was LSU's interim offensive coordinator in 2016, following the midseason firing of Cam Cameron.

This is Ensminger's first full season as an OC since he called the plays for Auburn back in 2008.

Then there's all the starters that are gone. The list includes Derrius Guice, D.J. Chark, Arden Key, Donte Jackson, Will Clapp and two-year starting quarterback Danny Etling.

The quarterback situation is a soap opera in itself.

With Etling gone, many thought talented sophomore Myles Brennan would take ownership of the position, but he was inconsistent throughout spring practice. So were the other three quarterbacks.

Then came Joe Burrow.

Burrow, a junior, transferred in from Ohio State, where he was backing up J.T. Barrett for the past two seasons.

Burrow has great size, and his talent was heralded coming out of high school, but there is still many unknowns. He has zero starts to his name, and he only has minimal playing experience.

The receiving corps is also a bit of a mystery for the Tigers in 2018.

It's certainly talented and deep, but with the departure of Chark and Russell Gage, experience is lacking.

Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles is expected to be their top target after piling up 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns in his last season with the Red Raiders. However, because of the transfer, he has not played in two years.

Stephen Sullivan, Drake Davis, Derrick Dillon and Justin Jefferson should all be in the mix for playing time, but combined, they produced a total of 28 catches last season.

The Tigers lost tight end Jamal Pettigrew to an offseason knee injury, but they'll return senior Foster Moreau, and N.C. State transfer Thaddeus Moss will be eligible this year.

Moss is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss.

The offensive line will return some experience with Garrett Brumfield, Saahdiq Charles and Donavaughn Campbell. Head coach Ed Orgeron has also been raving about junior-college transfer Damien Lewis.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they lose center Will Clapp and tackle Toby Weathersby. Also, projected starting guard Ed Ingram has been suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules.

It's not often the Tigers begin a season without a proven marquee running back, but they will in 2018.

With Guice and Darrel Williams gone, they'll be looking to shifty sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire and senior Nick Brossette. Both players have combined for just 55 career carries.

Orgeron has also mentioned Florida true freshman Chris Curry. He said that Curry's running style reminds him of Marshawn Lynch.

LSU will still be able to hang their hat on the defense.

The Tiger defensive line may not be as talented as it was last season, but it'll be much deeper. They'll be led by junior Rashard Lawrence and Texas Tech transfer Breidon Fehoko.

Other key rotational players will include Ed Alexander, Glen Logan and the 362-pound Tyler Shelvin.

Outside pass-rushers will include surging sophomore K'Lavon Chaisson, Andre Anthony and Michael Divinity, Jr.

The linebacking corps was a weakness last season due to their lack of depth and experience. That won't be the case this year.

They'll be led by arguably the best inside backer in the country in Devin White. He will be joined by ultra-talented sophomores in Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen. Though, Tyler Taylor has been indefinitely suspended due to an arrest last spring.

The safety position is absolutely loaded for the Tigers.

They return senior John Battle, along with sophomore Grant Delpit. Senior Ed Paris makes his return from a serious knee injury, and sophomores Eric Monroe and Todd Harris could see significant playing time.

The cornerbacks are led by arguably the top cover guy in the country in "Greedy" Williams, but there is plenty of inexperience behind him.

Terrence Alexander transferred from Stanford, but he wasn't a starter with the Cardinal. Kary Vincent, Jr. and Jontre Kirklin are both talented, but they haven't seen a lot of game action.

One area that should be vastly improved for LSU in 2018 is field goal kicking. Last year, the Tigers made just 16 of 27 kicks.

Cole Tracy will be their new kicker.

The graduate transfer from Assumption College earned the Fred Mitchell Award last season, which goes to the best kicker in FCS, Division II, Division III and NJCAA. He made 27 of 29 kicks.