LSU used to be the SEC program that posed the biggest challenge for Alabama on a year-by-year basis. Will that still be the case in 2018? The Tigers enter the second full season under Ed Orgeron trying to answer that question. LSU finished 9-4 and played in the Citrus Bowl for the second consecutive season. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was retained with a $2.5 million annual contract, and the Tigers promoted tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator to replace Matt Canada.
The LSU Football fell back to No. 18 in Sporting News’ updated way-too-early top 25 — and it doesn’t help that they have a brutal schedule. Here’s an early look at LSU heading into 2018:
LSU football schedule 2018
|April 21||National L Club Spring Game||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Sept. 2||No. 7 Miami (Sunday)||Arlington, Texas|
|Sept. 8||Southeastern Louisiana||Baton Rouge. La.|
|Sept. 15||at No. 8 Auburn||Auburn, Ala.|
|Sept. 22||Louisiana Tech||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Sept. 29||Ole Miss||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Oct. 6||at Florida||Gainesville, Fla.|
|Oct. 13||No. 3 Georgia||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Oct. 20||Mississippi State||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Nov. 3||No. 1 Alabama||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Nov. 10||at Arkansas||Fayetteville, Ark.|
|Nov. 17||Rice||Baton Rouge, La.|
|Nov. 24||at No. 25 Texas A&M||College Station, Texas|
|Dec. 1||SEC championship||Atlanta|
LSU football recruiting 2018
LSU had the No. 15 recruiting class according to 247Sports’ Composite team rankings. Five-star receiver and early enrollee Terrace Marshall (Parkway, Bossier City, La.) is the top recruit in the class. National Signing Day yielded an impressive haul, including four-star safety Kelvin Joseph (Scotlandville Magnet, Baton Rouge, La.), receiver JaMarr Chase (Archbishop Rummel, Metairie, La.) and defensive end Jarell Cherry (Carter, Dallas).
What to watch in 2018
1. Who will be the QB?
As usual, there’s a quarterback question at LSU, and this year it’s a three-way battle among Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse. Brennan attempted 14 of 24 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions last season, but the competition should be open heading into the spring. Which quarterback will mesh with Ensminger? Tigers quarterbacks combined for 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions last season.
2. Will Aranda be worth it?
The Tigers shelled out big time to keep Aranda away from Texas A&M with a deal that pays $2.5 million annually over the next four years. That’s a monster contract for one of the game’s best defensive minds, but it also puts this unit under the microscope. LSU ranked 16th in the FBS by allowing 18.8 points per game last season. Aranda will have to develop some new pass rushers, but this defense can build around Devin White, who led the Tigers with 133 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss last season.
3. What are fair expectations?
This is LSU, so “fair” doesn’t always come into play. The Tigers play four top-10 teams next year, starting with the opener against Miami in Jerry World. A September trip to Auburn will be a good barometer for the SEC season, which features home games against Georgia and Alabama. LSU won’t have to talk about what their place in the SEC contenders pecking order will be: They’ll find out on the field.