LSU Football has established itself as one of the sport’s blue bloods over the last two decades. The Tigers have managed to capture three national titles (2003, 2007 and 2019), which is more than any other team bar Alabama since the turn of the century. They have consistently had great seasons, regardless of whether it was Nick Saban, Les Miles or Ed Orgeron leading the charge. That was until two seasons ago. LSU’s title defense was a huge letdown in 2020, a performance that only carried into the 2021 season, which led to the latter’s departure.
Brian Kelly is now tasked with digging the Tigers out of the deepest hole they’ve been in since the 1998/99 seasons. The legendary now-former Notre Dame coach hasn’t had things easy during his time in Baton Rouge thus far. Nevertheless, there is belief in the Bayou that Kelly is steadying the ship. Despite putting together a solid coaching staff and adding some great, young players through recruiting and the transfer portal, LSU continues to be underrated by the media.
LSU Football should be given more respect due to the talent on the roster
The official SEC preseason media poll has the Tigers finishing fifth in the SEC West, despite all of these new additions. While this wouldn’t necessarily be a surprising start to life under Kelly considering the mess that the Massachusetts native walked into, it feels a bit harsh given all of the talent within LSU’s ranks. In addition, Kelly has been coaching for 19 years and he’s only failed to win at least six games twice. He’s a much better coach than national pundits are saying. The Tigers have a lot more potential than many believe right now.
For example, Kayshon Boutte was named to the Biletnikoff Award watchlist last week. He’s being touted as one of the best wide receivers in the country, which earned him a first-team all-SEC nod. Boutte isn’t the only individual receiving some national attention either. Defensive linemen BJ Ojulari, Ali Gaye and Maason Smith were given first, second and third team all-SEC preseason nominations, as well. LSU also has a few more individuals who’ve wound up on different shortlists too. Micah Baskerville appeared on the Butkus Award’s preseason watchlist and Ojulari popped up again for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watchlist. The defensive line earned yet another nod when Jaquelin Roy found his way onto the Outland Trophy’s watchlist.
Given the fact that the Tigers have all of this talent in the front seven and a core of experienced defensive backs, it’s safe to assume that the issues on defense of years past will be fixed. Factor in a stubborn defense to a team that has talent like Boutte, Jack Bech, John Emery and Malik Nabers on the offensive side of the ball, and LSU could play spoiler this season. Kelly’s roster is far from complete—question marks remain along the offensive line and under center—but it doesn’t appear to be a squad headed toward a fifth place finish in the SEC West.
The Tigers have enough talent at both ends to make some noise and earn a top 25 finish. While that certainly isn’t the standard that LSU is aiming to set, it’s a start after some serious setbacks over the last couple of years under Ed Orgeron’s guidance. The Tigers look wildly unpredictable heading into the season, but if we’ve learned anything about this program over the years, it’s that it hardly ever finishes where it is predicted to start. LSU may not be a world-beater this season, Kelly’s team will turn a few heads along the journey though. Be careful how you rate the Tigers.
How do you think the Tigers will finish next season? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!