Not only is LSU returning its starting quarterback for the second straight season, it also has a capable backup with Danny Etling. Harris should show progression this season, but if he slips up Etling has the experience and a solid arm to get the job done.
Leonard Fournette should write his name in the history books this season, along with playing for a national championship. Behind Fournette, Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams help make up one of the best running back groups in the country.
J.D. Moore returns from a knee injury that sidelined him for the second half of the season. Now healthy, Moore will help pave the way for Fournette and company. Bry'keithon Mouton also provides a solid backup for Moore incase injury would occur. Mouton struggled at times last season, but improved and led the way for LSU to rush for 377 rushing yards in the Tigers’ 56-27 Texas Bowl win in December.
The depth of this group took a hit with John Diarse, Trey Quinn, Tyron Johnson and Kevin Spears, but Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural are NFL caliber wideouts and have strong chemistry with Harris. Big things are expected out of D.J. Chark, who can lineup anywhere on the field, but will serve as the Tigers slot receiver this season.
Jeter is LSU’s lead man, especially in the passing game. The senior grabbed 12 receptions last season, eight more than fellow senior tight end Desean Smith, who was the only other Tiger tight end to catch a pass last season. Moreau was mainly used as a run blocking tight end. Look for more of the same this season with an extra pinch of tight end action involved in the passing game.
LT1: K.J. Malone
LT2: Maea Teuhema
The offensive line may have found its shape for the season opener, according to Les Miles. From left tackle to right, it is Malone, Clapp, Pocic, Boutte and Weathersby — but that may change from snap to snap. Teuhema, an 11-game starter in 2015, was a mainstay on the line last season. He was hindered by a sprained ankle to begin camp, but his journey to the starting line is continuing. Expect to see various combos across the offensive line every snap and game throughout the season.
In comes Dave Aranda, a master of disguise tactician with one goal for his defense: don’t let the offense know what you’re doing. In his 3-4 defense, Aranda will front different combinations along the defensive line. For the most part, the trio (the “3” in the 3-4 defense) of Neal, Gilmore (or Valentine) and Godchaux will be in the three-point stance at the ends and nose tackle.
Four linebackers. Or is it? Part of Aranda’s nifty tricks to is bring (blitz) his outside linebacker (Buck and F) or he may pull them off into zone passing coverage. The outside men must be versatile in his scheme, so Key, a 6-foot-6 athletic defensive end is on one side and Bower/Divinity are on the other side.
And on the inside: veterans. Beckwith and Riley, a junior and senior, respectively, will man the middle. Beckwith will be the play-calling captain will Riley will be at his side at the “Rover.” Alexander and White, their backups, are capable, sizeable reserves too, Miles says.
Nickel1: Tre’Davious White
Nickel2: Donte Jackson
Led by Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams, LSU’s defensive backs will try to keep up the reputation of “DBU”. Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson roles will increase this season with White moving to the nickel position during certain packages.
Freshman Saivion Smith — who enrolled in the spring — could be a quality backup to Toliver and White.
P: Josh Growden
KO1: Connor Culp
KO2: Cameron Gamble
After being burned in a fiery car crash at a kicking camp this summer, Delahoussaye has since returned to the team and is 100 percent healthy, he said. He will man the place-kicking duties to begin the season, while Culp has emerged as the frontrunner for the kickoff gig. In a “gully washer,” as Les Miles said of a thunderstorm, Culp launched a kickoff “three rows deep” out of the endzone. “He knocked it out,” Miles said.