2015 LSU Tigers Football Preview

Team Info
LSU Tigers
Head Coach: Les Miles
2014 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 SEC West
2014 Postseason results: Lost to Notre Dame 31-28 in the Music City Bowl
2015 returning starters: 7 offense, 6 defense

Betting Info
Odds to win 2016 College Football  Championship game: 26/1
Odds to win 2015 SEC Championship Game: +775
Odds to Win 2015 SEC West Division: +480
Regular season wins: over 8 -125 / under 8 -115
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LSU looks to bounce back for an 8-5 season last year.
LSU looks to bounce back from an 8-5 season last year.

After a disappointing 8-5 season last year, the LSU Tigers look to rebound in 2015 and get back to competing for the SEC title. The Tigers lost 3 of their last 4 games including to rivals Arkansas and Alabama. LSU would end up losing to Notre Dame 31-28 in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.

This year 13 starters are back for coach Les Miles. The Tigers are the fourth favorite to win the SEC Championship game behind Alabama, Georgia and Auburn.

Offense

Last year,  the offense was pretty bad for LSU averaging 388 yards per game including 225 rushing yards. The Tigers were #25 nationally in rushing but the passing game was almost non-existent at a paltry 163 yards per game. Only 12 teams were worse than the Tigers at throwing the ball. LSU averaged 28 points per game. Seven starters are back for the Tigers on offense for coordinator Cam Cameron. The offense must improve drastically if the Tigers are truly going to return to being an elite team.

Last season, Anthony Jennings took about 75% of the snaps at quarterback, while Brandon Harris took the rest. Neither was that great, and the two split the snaps in spring practice. They were to continue competing in fall camp, but Jennings was suspended indefinitely after he and two other players were arrested in June for breaking and entering. Miles said Jennings could return in time for fall camp, but his status is up in the air. Jennings completed 49% of his passes for 1,611 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also rushed for 292 yards on 108 carries. Harris threw for 452 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and also rushed for 159 yards on 26 carries with 3 touchdowns.

Former five star recruit Leonard Fournette had 187 carries for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman, and also added 7 catches for 127 yards. His two primary back-ups are both in the NFL now. Terrence McGee is now with the Baltimore Ravens after rushing for 571 yards on 112 carries and 3 touchdowns, and making 17 catches for 171 yards. Kenny Hilliard is now with the Houston Texans. He had 90 carries for 447 yards and 6 touchdowns, and also making 4 catches. Expect Fournette to carry more of the load at running back after he put on some muscle in the off-season. Darrel Williams is back and had 64 carries for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 6 catches. Jennings and Harris will also get their fair share of carries as well.

Receiver Travin Dural is back after making 37 catches for 758 yards with 7 touchdowns, and he also rushed for 111 yards. Sophomore Malachi Dupre had 14 catches for 318 yards with 5 touchdowns despite battling injury. John Diarse had 15 catches for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns and is also back. Trey Quinn is also back after making 17 catches for 193 yards. Dillon Gordon is back as the tight end but LSU uses the tight end more for blocking.

Three starters are back on the offensive line. Jerald Hawkins moves from right tackle to left tackle to replace La’el Collins, now with the Dallas Cowboys. Ethan Pocic returns at left guard and Vadal Alexander moves to right tackle to replace Hawkins.

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Defense

The LSU defense was in the top 10 nationally in total defense (317 yards per game), pass defense (164 ypg) and points allowed (18 per game). Defensive coordinator John Chavis left LSU to take the same position at Texas A&M. Miles hired Kevin Steele as the new coordinator, and former Southern California interim coach Ed Orgeron to coach the defensive line. Six starters are back on defense.

Tackles Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux are back, but both ends must be replaced. Look for juniors Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal to start at the ends. Maquedius Bain was one of the players involved in the breaking and entering with Jennings, and is also suspended indefinitely. Steele is more familiar with a base 3-4 so the Tigers might run some 3 man fronts. The line needs to stay healthy as injuries plagued them in 2014.

Lamar Louis and Kendall Beckwith return at linebacker. Beckwith was the teams second leading tackler despite not starting until midway through the season. Deion Jones will start on the outside.

The secondary has always been a strength at LSU and this year should be no exception. Tre’Davious White returns at cornerback and Jalen Mills is back at safety. Ed Paris and true freshman Kevin Toliver II will also contribute. Dwayne Thomas was also involved with the Jennings and Bain situation and is suspended indefinitely.

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Special Teams

Kicker Colby Delahoussaye struggled down the stretch and will battle Trent Dominique for the kicking job in fall camp. Jamie Keehn is back as the punter, and is on the watch list for the Ray Guy award. Fournette will return kicks again and White will return punts again. Each took one to the house last year.

Schedule

In September, LSU hosts McNeese State and Auburn, while traveling to Mississippi State and Syracuse. October brings home games against Eastern Michigan, Florida and Western Kentucky, and a road game at South Carolina. The schedule gets very tough in November with road games at Alabama and Ole Miss, and home games against Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Outlook

The non-conference schedule is very soft with a road game at a rebuilding Syracuse as the only potential challenge. If LSU can upset Auburn in Baton Rouge, there is a chance they could be undefeated going into the November gauntlet. However, there is a good chance they could lose two or three of those games. There are a lot of questions on offense for this team though starting at quarterback. I think the Tigers win 9 games and go to a bowl like the Citrus or Texas Bowl.

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