Brian Kelly’s LSU Tigers went 9-3 in 2023 despite having one of the worst defenses in the entire country. On that side of the ball, they ranked 103rd in total yards allowed per game, 104th against the pass, 92nd against the run, and 81st in scoring defense, allowing 27.8 points per game.
Yes, Jayden Daniels, the Heisman Trophy winner, is off to the NFL along with his No. 1 receiver Malik Nabers, and the Tigers just lost their offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock to Notre Dame, but there is still so much more to feel good about on offense than on defense.
Brian Kelly has to figure out how to fix the defense in Baton Rouge, or he’ll be looking for a new home, one that isn’t in the SEC. So far, Kelly has added a quarterback, a wide receiver, and a safety in the transfer portal, so the No. 12 high school recruiting class in the nation will need to plug holes on the 2024 roster.
On Early Signing Day, Kelly locked in his 27-player class that includes 18 four-stars and nine three-stars, and at least a few of those players will need to make an impact for LSU in 2024. These are the most likely candidates to play a role for Kelly right away.
The Tigers were 96th in terms of explosive passing plays allowed in 2023, giving up 43 passing plays of 20+ yards, and even allowed 23 30+ yards passing plays which ranked 108th.
Modern defense is all about putting a lid on explosive offenses with deep safeties, but Major Burns and Andre’ Sam were routinely beaten downfield. That group needs a complete overhaul, even with both players returning.
Kelly has already added Jardin Gilbert a safety from Texas A&M in the portal, but McBryde, the No. 52 recruit in the country and fourth-best safety will get a chance to play.
At 6-foot-2 200-pounds, McBryde has the requisite size to play safety in the SEC, but his instincts and ball skills are what will set him apart. He is a downhill safety who reacts well in the run game, but he also has the ball skills to take away the deep part of the field if he’s asked to.
McBryde has enough raw talent to get a chance to compete for snaps at a position of desperate need for the Tigers.