What to know: Tiger football in 2018
Well, it’s finally football season. And besides all the food, fashion and festivities that surround a good game day in Baton Rouge, there’s also the actual game itself.
LSU opened up its 2018 campaign with an impressive 33-17 win again No. 8 Miami, setting up for what might be a more successful season than many had previously thought. The team returns to Tiger Stadium for its first home game of the season this Saturday, September 8, against Southeastern, and we wanted to give you a brief breakdown of who and what to look for on the field throughout the season.
WHO TO WATCH
Joe Burrow, quarterback, #9: Burrow is the newest addition to LSU’s team, transferring over from Ohio State this summer. He never started a game at his previous school, but he still comes to Baton Rouge with tons of hype surrounding his potential. The Tiger coaching staff feels they may have their best quarterback in quite some time.
Nick Brossette, running back, #4: Brossette is a Baton Rouge native who has patiently waited for his turn to shine. The senior has had to sit behind LSU standouts like Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice in previous years before finally getting his shot to be the team’s workhorse this year. He ran for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns in his breakout game against Miami last week.
Devin White, linebacker, #40: White is arguably the best player on LSU’s team. He led the Southeastern Conference in tackles last season with 133 in the regular season and is projected to be one of the highest draft picks in next year’s NFL Draft. White will be hard to miss this year as he’s flying all around the field on defense.
Andraez “Greedy” Williams, cornerback, #29: What a nickname, huh? William’s grandmother gave him the moniker as a child because he always wanted more food, and the title sticks now more than ever. Williams led the SEC with six interceptions a year ago and, like White, is one of the highest rated players in all of college football this year.
Jonathan Giles, wide receiver, #7: Giles, the latest player to wear the coveted No. 7 jersey for the Tigers, is going to be a key to LSU’s success this season. The Texas Tech transfer had to sit out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, but is ready to pick up where he left off for the Red Raiders and make a splash in 2018 on both offense and special teams. Look for Giles to have a huge impact in the passing game and punt return game.
WHAT TO EXPECT
On offense: Head coach Ed Orgeron promoted former tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to be his new offensive coordinator this season. Ensminger took over the same role in 2016 as an interim and LSU’s offense subsequently exploded, breaking numerous school and SEC records in the process. The Tigers have traditionally been known as a run-heavy offense, but Ensminger is hoping to open it up more this season with a greater emphasis on passing. Burrow will be the key to the offense’s success, but the team will also place a big workload on the large group of young but talented wide receivers.
On defense: This is LSU’s bread and butter. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is now in his third season in Baton Rouge, and he may have his best defense yet this year. Anchored by White and Williams, along with defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence, the Tigers are lining up to be one of the best defenses in all of college football. While some question marks still linger on the offensive unit, the defense will undoubtedly keep LSU in every game this season.
On special teams: LSU didn’t have a special team’s coordinator last year, and the results showed on the field. The field goal kicking and punting units struggled all season, so Orgeron hired coaching veteran Greg McMahon to take over. The improvements have already paid dividends as transfer kicker Cole Tracy booted four field goals against Miami, including a school record-tying 54-yarder. What was a weakness on last year’s team should be a strength this season.
On the season: Predictions were all over the place for LSU this preseason. National analysts called everything from a 10-2 season to a 6-6 record. The schedule is brutal, with six ranked teams facing LSU, including four in the top 10. The season-opening win against Miami was a great start, but many more tests still loom in the future. Hang on to your hats, because no matter what happens, LSU is going to take you on quite a ride in 2018.
For more insights on this season, check out the Tiger Pride Podcast, as well as Mark Clements’ article in 225 magazine’s August issue.