How do recent suspensions impact LSU football in 2015?


The LSU football team lost a total of four players to indefinite suspensions on Thursday, including last year’s starting quarterback Anthony Jennings. How will this affect the Tigers this season?

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The LSU football program suffered a serious black eye on Thursday, something that is going to have major implications on their outlook for the 2015 season.

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Four players were arrested in two separate incidents, and as a result, all were suspended indefinitely from the team. The first LSU player to be arrested on the fateful day was Trey Lealaimatafao, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle who has been nothing but trouble since he arrived in Baton Rouge.

In his third off-the-field incident in just one year on campus, Lealaimatafao had by far the most troubling arrest of the group, and one that should have him kicked off the team if the details are true.

Per The Advocate:

"“Lealaimatafao’s arrest stems from a fight in the early morning hours Tuesday at Reggie’s bar in Baton Rouge. The redshirt freshman from Texas dug through the pockets of an unnamed male who had been beaten unconscious by “unknown suspects” in the parking lot of Reggie’s, police records show. Lealaimatafao then punched the victim’s girlfriend in the face with a closed fist when she interfered, and then continued to dig through the male victim’s pockets, police records show.”"

He was charged with simple battery and simple robbery, a felony.

Lealaimatafao was unlikely to see much action this season, and at this point, I cannot envision him ever suiting up for the Tigers. It is probably in the school’s best interest anyway to part ways with a player who has shown up more on the police blotter than the football field.

The other three players to be arrested, and subsequently suspended, is where things get interesting.

LSU’s starting quarterback from this past season, Anthony Jennings, was arrested alongside teammates Dwayne Thomas and Maquedius Bain on charges of unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling. Thomas was also booked on one count of simple burglary.

The arrests stem from an incident in which the three players allegedly broke into an apartment to retrieve stolen items belonging to Jennings.

Jennings and Thomas are juniors, and both have been considered to be among the leaders of their respective units. That will likely have changed by the time the season opener comes around.

Thomas, a defensive back who was expected to play in nickel and dime packages, will probably reclaim his role once he rejoins the team. However, his absence does create an opportunity for two highly-coveted incoming freshman, Donte Jackson and Kevin Tolliver II, to step in and show the coaching staff and their teammates that they have what it takes shine on the big stage.

If either Tolliver or Jackson is able to seize the moment, do not be surprised to see them take over the nickelback role for LSU. Local product Russell Gage could also see some playing time at corner.

As for Bain, a sophomore, he was expected to battle for one of the two starting defensive end positions. At the very least, he was going to play a significant number snaps on the line.

He has lost any hope at claiming a starting spot, but as with Thomas, he should still be able to get on the field. It may just be in a smaller capacity.

True freshman Arden Key could play a big role early in the season as a result of the suspension, assuming he gets his transcript issues taken care of shortly, and juniors Dashawn Bower and Lewis Neal now have the starting defensive end jobs locked up safely.

This brings us to Jennings.

Out of the three players he was arrested with, LSU’s heavily-criticized quarterback is easily the player who will lose the most from this situation.

Even before the arrest, Jennings had not won the starting job, although Les Miles‘ track record for sticking with a quarterback regardless of on-field performance probably had him as the favorite over sophomore Brandon Harris.

His poor decision now has Harris sitting in the driver’s seat.

In all honesty, Jennings was probably not going to lead this team to greatness, at least not by LSU’s standards. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes last season, and simply did not look like an SEC-caliber starting quarterback.

Harris was very raw and struggled to learn the playbook during his freshman campaign, evidenced by a horrendous performance against Auburn in his first career start, but he also showed flashes of brilliance. While Harris clearly has his weaknesses, his talent alone is enough to make LSU a contender if he reaches his full potential.

The biggest problem will be the lack of quarterback depth that Jennings’ suspension creates. With him off the depth chart for the time being, true freshman Justin McMillan is going to be the best backup option for the Tigers. To say the least, the Bayou Bengals will be in big trouble if Harris goes down.

The bottom line: LSU is going to be just fine, but there is no doubt that they will be an improved team if and when Jennings, Bain, and Thomas return.

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