From breaking a long win-less streak against Alabama to capping off a perfect 15-win season by defeating the defending National Champions, what comes next for LSU football?
Currently, it's self-quarantining and hoping that college football will make its usual debut in late August. While the world of sports is at a standstill, however, the Tigers remain National Champions. But for how long?
Most would say it's rebuilding time for the Tigers with nine underclassmen leaving for the NFL and another 11 seniors graduating. With only six of last season's starters returning, could the Tigers regroup and compete for another national title?
The answer to that question comes from the deep roster that LSU built prior to its championship run, new faces stepping into vacant positions and the incoming recruiting class head coach Ed Orgeron has assembled.
This year will be the testing grounds for the revamped offense without Joe Brady and Joe Burrow. So long as college football returns, here are the possible starters for LSU’s 2020 season.
Myles Brennan is the choice on paper, which is why he was designated the starter at the start of spring training before practices were cancelled. He was supposed to be the successor to Danny Etling until Burrow arrived in May 2018. Now, Brennan can prove himself as the next pilot of the offense.
With redshirt freshman Peter Parrish on indefinite suspension, 2020 recruits Max Johnson and T.J. Finley will challenge Brennan. Brennan has the potential to do great things. Since his high school recruitment, he has been associated with his “big arm." Time will tell if the crowned prince has enough spunk to rally the Tigers, not as Burrow would do it, but as Brennan would do it.
Austin Deculus will be the only returning starter on LSU’s formerly star-studded line that won the Joe Moore Award for best offensive line in college football last season. Though Deculus will be the leader of the group at right tackle, former backups Chasen Hines and Ed Ingram will step up at center and left guard roles, respectively. Backing them up will be true freshman Anthony Bradford, bouncing between the right and left guard spots during times of injury.
Dare Rosenthal, another experienced blocker located at left tackle, will be switching to the defensive side of the ball, leaving a wide-open competition between Kardell Thomas, Cameron Wire and others. This year paves way for a deep lineup with an opportunity for recruits and redshirt freshmen to shine. The Joe Moore Award will not go back to this line after the 2020 season, but the upcoming year won’t cause many concerns.
The loss of a running back on the Tigers’ roster isn’t the end of the offense like the early exits of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice were. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a loss, but, with the initiation of a more running back-by-committee scheme, the transition from the junior veteran to the trio of true freshman will hopefully bring a dynamic needed to support the aerial attack. The return of Tyrion Davis-Price, John Emery Jr. and Chris Curry put the Tigers up in a stable position for next season. Although Curry got the majority of the snaps against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl, Davis-Price seems best fit for the starting back role. His ability to accelerate and find openings in the line slightly beat the competition. However, he has far from stolen the spot from the other two. The three, along with 2020 recruit Kevontre Bradford, will bounce from starter to support until either a starter has proven himself or the committee system proves dominant. The running game shouldn’t falter.
The significant damage to the receiving core is Justin Jefferson's early departure to the NFL. Returnees Ja’Marr Chase and Terrance Marshall should be more than enough for the near future of this pass-happy offense. Chase returns as the 2019 Biletnikoff award-winner given to the best receiver in college football. Marshall follows a season with 13 touchdown receptions despite missing three games from a foot injury. Both come with experience and recognition as the new duo of receivers is expected to dominate the college football landscape. Along with help from Racey McMath and five-star recruit Kayshon Boutte, the receiving core is deep enough to provide Brennan with a variety of route runners.
It would be a lie if die hard fans and opposing coaches didn’t expect Arik Gilbert, a five-star recruit and the top tight end in the nation for the 2020 class, to be the starter for the Tigers in the fall. That would be the case if it weren't for Gilbert’s shoulder injury taking him out for all of spring, according to Geaux 24/7. With spring practices on standby, Gilbert has time to fully recover while not losing out on reps. With the only real contributor in the tight-end department leaving for the draft and the rest having little to no experience, the battle for starting job is open. Junior Jamal Pettigrew will have chance due to his seniority and experience gained behind Thaddeus Moss. However, Gilbert will have a chance to fight for the job after his recovery and attempt to validate his five-star ranking to the LSU fan base.