LSU Football: 5 Biggest Questions Heading Into 2015
Do the Tigers have what it takes to compete in the Wild West?
It seems like only esterday the SEC West was a two horse race between LSU and Alabama. Now, the conference has evolved into college football’s version of the NBA’s Western Conference. The talent runs deep from top to bottom and whoever emerges is the favorite to win the SEC championship over whoever limps in from the East.
LSU went 2-4 in the division last season and iooked overmatched in more than one contest: does Auburn 41, LSU 7, ring a bell? If LSU is wants reclaim the West for the first time since 2011, it’s going to have to win big games on the road.
The team has an early road date with Mississippi State, who beat the Bayou Bengals for the first time in eight years last season. The team will also travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama. Nick Saban’s team has beaten the Tigers in four straight contests.
Who’s the quarterback?
One way to the end the division drought is to figure out who the team’s quarterback this year. Like death and taxes, quarterback controversy is a certainty for LSU under Miles. Last spring, Sophomore Anthony Jennings and Freshman Brandon Harris battled for the honor. Jennings won the competition and guided the team to worst passing average (162.9) and completion percentage (50%) in the SEC.
Jennings and Harris are back, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will get the bulk of the reps this year. Conventional wisdom says Harris will get a chance to prove himself over the less than stellar Jennings but Miles has never been known for going with the obvious choice. Maybe Jamarcus Russell still has eligibility.
Can the man of Stelele replace Chavis?
Heads turned in the offseason when defensive coordinator John Chavis left the program for the same position with rival Texas A&M. Chavis’ defection left a hole that was plugged by Kevin Steele, formerly Alabama’s linebackers coach. Under Chavis LSU’s defense was top-notch, giving up 17.5 points per game, 5th best in the country. Steele comes in highly regarded and will need to make sure the D doesn’t regress. Given the team’s struggles on offense, last year, ay steps back on defense will submarine the season very quickly.
Can LSU get to the quarterback?
The first order of business for Steele is figuring out how to generate more pressure on the quarterback.The team registered a paltry 19 sacks last year, second worst in the conference. Former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron has been brought in to coach the defensive line,which should help. The key will be developing young tackles Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture, who have shown promise. The team will also need to figure out who will occupy the end positions as well.
Has the Mad Hatter lost his touch?
Two things can be said of Head Coach Les miles: he’s not afraid to make risky play calls and he gives the most unique interviews of any coach in the SEC. Nicknamed The Mad Hatter, Miles has stockpiled impressive wins at LSU, guided the team to 2 BCS championship games, and one national title. As a result of his success-and Saban before him- LSU has grown into a powerhouse program where competing for a championship is an annual expectation.
Miles is in danger of becoming a victim of his own success. Two loss seasons are now seen as failures and the Tiger faithful get restless a lot quicker than they used to. It also doesn't help that Miles hasn't developed an NFL quality quarterback in his 10-year tenure (sorry, Zach Mettenberger).
Miles may not be in danger of losing his job in the next season or two, but in today’s football landscape 8-5 records can keep you employed for only so long. Can Miles recreate some of his mojo and guide the Tigers back to the top of the mountain?
Time will tell.