LSU vs. Mississippi State

LSU football coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU football team run the field Saturday, Sep. 26, 2020 before LSU's 44-24 loss against Mississippi State in Tiger Stadium.

Going into the spring coming off one of its worst seasons in recent history, the LSU Football program seems to have found a new life and energy.

The 2020 season was a crazy and unforgettable year for everyone in college football, but for LSU fans a year that many would like to forget. LSU finished 5-5 in the shortened 10-game season and was a mere shell of the team it was during the 2019 season.

There was massive turnover with both players and coaches after the 2019 season, and that played a huge role in the Tigers’ struggles throughout the 2020 season. LSU will enter the 2021 season in the fall returning most of its starters which will play a key role in improving on last season. The Tigers will once again have a lot of turnover on the coaching staff, but Head Coach Ed Orgeron is confident in the new coaches joining the staff this year.

“I think we did a great job of hiring coaches and interviewing them,” Orgeron said. “I hired some coaches I didn’t even interview for the last staff, and I’m never doing that again.”

The biggest coaching changes for LSU come at both coordinator positions. At offensive coordinator, LSU hired Jake Peetz to replace Steve Ensminger who stepped down from the position. At defensive coordinator, LSU hired Daronte Jones who replaces Bo Pelini who was fired after an astonishingly bad season with the Tigers’ defense, giving up roughly 35 PPG. Both coordinators will have work to do to return LSU to the machine it was in 2019, but there is no shortage of talent for each coach to work with.

On defense, LSU returns arguably the best cornerback partnership in Elias Ricks and Derek Stingley along with other talented corners in Cordale Flott, Jay Ward and Dwight McGlothern. It will be interesting to see how Jones, who specializes with defensive backs, does with a loaded cornerback room and uber talented incoming freshman safeties in Sage Ryan and Derrick Davis Jr. The defensive line will be another position group to keep an eye on with LSU returning all of its starting defensive linemen from last year and adding the No. 1 incoming freshman from Louisiana, Maason Smith.

On offense, all eyes are on the quarterback room where LSU has four different quarterbacks that are all capable of starting come September. Orgeron is pleased with the development of his quarterbacks so far this offseason and believes all four are capable of leading the team.

“The quarterbacks are competing very well. All three guys returning are doing very well and [freshman] Garrett Nussmeier continues to impress,” Orgeron said. “All of them are competing right now, and they’re all getting equal reps.”

The quarterback battle will be by far the biggest storyline of the offseason with LSU starting three different quarterbacks over the course of the 2020 season. Then freshmen TJ Finley and Max Johnson both stepped into the starting role during the season after veteran signal caller Myles Brennan went down with a season-ending injury to his abdomen in the third game of the season. Finley took over for Brennan initially, but Johnson stepped in as the starter for the final two games of the season and led the Tigers to a huge upset victory over Florida and an impressive win against Ole Miss to close the season. Johnson finished the season on fire but Brennan’s experience and numbers in the first three games of the 2020 season likely make him the slight favorite for the starting job next season.

It has been a long road back to the field for Brennan who put up very impressive numbers through the first three games of last season despite going 1-2 in those games. Brennan sustained his injury early in the game against Missouri, and despite finishing the game, Brennan would go on to miss the rest of the season.

Brennan’s injury was unique. It initially seemed to be nothing serious, but as the weeks went on it never healed.

“It was probably the strangest injury I’ve ever had,” Brennan said talking about the injury. “No one had ever seen an injury like this.”

After sitting out most of the 2020 season to recover from this injury, Brennan is now back to full speed and is ready to get back to himself on the field this spring.

“It was a very difficult process, but I feel 100% now,” Brennan said. “I’ve been back in the weight room since January. I feel strong. I feel healthy, and I’m ready to go.”

It will be interesting to see who emerges as the starter from this talented quarterback room in the fall. No matter who ends up getting the starting job for the Tigers, they are in good hands at the quarterback position and have never had this much talent at the quarterback position.

“You would have never thought LSU would have as talented of a quarterback room as we have now,” Brennan said.

All things considered, LSU football is doing all the right things to get the program back on track and where fans expect it to be. Orgeron has shown throughout his relatively short but successful career at LSU that he thrives in adversity and is more than capable of bouncing back after failing to meet expectations.

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