The 2019 LSU Tigers football team will go down in history for one of the greatest college seasons of all time, and especially for having the greatest LSU season of all time.
The 2020 team will have a lot to live up to, but I am confident that they won't be just fine. They will be elite, even with the loss of key players.
To begin with, the loss of Joe Burrow, Grant Delpit, Joe Brady and Dave Aranda gives cause for concern, as the team must replace several key cogs in the team machine. The loss of All-Americans Burrow and Delpit is especially worrying, as both will leave big shoes to fill.
Joe Brady is credited with revamping the offense and allowing the players to excel, but he has moved on to the NFL. Dave Aranda’s defense and his presence as “the professor” will prove difficult to replace after his departure to Baylor. Overall, there is going to be a lot of massive turnover, but don’t press the panic button yet.
Despite the loss of such important figures in the program, the team will be far from helpless.
The search for the next quarterback will be exciting, as Myles Brennan will be put to the test. I expect big things out of Brennan, especially since he set records in high school and has given his best to the program. Years of sitting and learning will pay off as he leads a team full of new faces who are looking to blaze their own path.
The offensive line has some holes to fill with the loss of Lloyd Cushenberry, Adrian Magee, Saadiq Charles and Damien Lewis, who combined had more than 50 starts. But Dare Rosenthal and Chasen Hines are two talented players who have been waiting in the wings and will make an impact next year when given the opportunity.
Kardell Thomas, Anthony Bradford and Charles Turner will be in contention for starting roles next year as well. This group of young players combined with returners like Austin Deculus and Ed Ingram leaves the offensive line in great shape going into next year.
Blocking will prove to be essential, as the success of the running and passing game is completely dependent on the line. Another key aspect of the offense will be the running backs. Chris Curry, Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emory are returning this year.
The running backs will face high expectations, as the University has been known for its elite rushing talent, with Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire all breaking 1,000-yard seasons. This trio of Curry, Davis-Price and Emory might not have a 1,000-yard rusher between them, but all will excel in specialized roles as the team utilizes a running back by committee approach.
Reigning Biletnikoff winner Jamar Chase is back to lead the rest of the stacked receiving corp this year. Chase is joined by Terrace Marshall Jr., whose 13 TDs last year would’ve set the LSU record for receiving touchdowns had it not been for teammates Justin Jefferson and Jamar Chase.
The two returning starters will be joined by Racey McMath, Trey Palmer, Jaray Jenkins and several more talented receivers as they compete for the last starting receiver position. The wide receiver room looks to be one of the most talented groups going into the 2020 season.
The defensive line will have a revival with the addition of Bo Pelini as the defensive coordinator. Switching from the linebackers focused 3-4 to the defensive line focused 4-3 will allow the defensive linemen to excel.
Neil Ferrel, Glen Logan and Tyler Shelvin are all returning, and will be bolstered by some promising young linemen like Jacobian Guillory, Jaquelin Roy and Apu Ika. The defensive line will look different than in years past, and I expect the biggest jump in production to come from this position group.
The linebacker corp will have the most to rebuild with the loss of three out of four starters, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen and K’lavon Chaisson. With a new defensive concept, the remaining linebackers will have some catching up to do, but I think they will turn out to be the most impressive unit on defense.
Donte Starks, Micah Baskerville, Antoine Sampah, and Phillip Webb are some names to watch as the competition rages over who gets the opportunity to start, but DBU will back for another season. The most important return is Corey Raymond, the former LSU DB who is now the DB Coach credited with establishing the DBU moniker.
The return of All-American Derek Stingley paired with No. 1 cornerback Elias Ricks or Cordal Flott will prove to be a dynamic duo in the cornerback position. Jacoby Stevens returns to his safety position and will be joined by either Todd Harris or Mo Hampton, who will get the first shot at starting at the opposite safety position, taking the place of Thorpe award winner Grant Delpit.
But players like Eric Monroe, Jordan Toles and Marcel Brooks will be pushing for playing time too. Coach Orgeron and his staff have built up our roster to a championship level. The Tigers are set to reload with the blue-chip talent they have waiting in the wings.
These players may not be household names yet, but by the end of the season, I expect the new roster of Tigers to have made their impact. Pundits will be quick to discount the abilities of the 2020 LSU football team, but I am here to say they will be back in national championship contention behind the leadership of Coach O.
The National Championship is the 2020 goal, and I am confident that the new Tigers team can lead us there.
Cory Koch is a 20-year-old political science junior from Alexandria, Louisiana.