1. Can the offensive line get and stay healthy?
This is the key to the season. It’s the different between LSU being good and being dominant. Toby Weathersby will be back for the Alabama game and that’s a huge deal for this LSU offense. Weathersby can really lock down the right side and allow Maea Teuhema to step in at guard in case someone has gone down. With the group settled and getting back to full health, the LSU running game and pass protection should only get better. The Tigers offensive line will face a very tough task against Alabama on November 5. A good measuring stick will be how well LSU’s unit plays versus Alabama and then against Texas A&M as well later in the year. By then, it’s either stepped up for LSU or not. We’ll be able to tell a lot about LSU’s chances to be successful down the stretch when the Tide come into Tiger Stadium next week.
2. With Rickey Jefferson out, will someone in the secondary step up enough to cover for some deficiencies that have plagued the Tigers secondary at times?
Staying healthy at another position is critical. LSU has had its struggles at times in 1-on-1 coverage and with Jefferson out and John Battle in, the Tigers have to step up. Against Ole Miss, the Rebels were able to take advantage of some of the matchups with their receivers and Alabama’s talented skills would in theory, be able to find some similar matchups. Battle, Dwayne Thomas, Ed Paris and others are all looking to fill that safety role vacated by Jefferson’s injury. By the Alabama game, LSU will need to have multiple options to step in and play very well.
3. Can Danny Etling win a game himself for LSU if necessary?
There comes a time in every quarterback’s season at least once that he’ll have to go out and win the game for his team. Etling is waiting for his chance to seize that moment when it comes his way. Those shots that Etling has missed down the field at times, need to be hit. Getting into the right play call will be even more critical. All of the little things that great quarterbacks do, he’ll likely be asked to do for LSU rather than rely on Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice and the other backs. While LSU has become more balanced, the offense is still reliant on the run. Etling might have to win a game for the Tigers with big plays down the stretch and playing turnover free. Everything makes you feel good about his ability to lead the team, but he still has a few accuracy questions, which he’ll need to erase when this time comes.
4. Does LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye have the ability to come in clutch for the Tigers?
It’s been a while since Delahoussaye knocked through that kick against Florida to win it. Since then, the senior has sat out for a year and been in a fatal car accident. Following his emotional offseason, Delahoussaye has been somewhat inconsistent in his kicking. Without having to work kickoffs with Cam Gamble taking that on, Delahoussaye has to just focus on field goals and extra points. It hasn’t happened yet, but like Etling, Delahoussaye might have to win a game for the Tigers whether it be with one kick or making multiple ones in a defensive slugfest. He’s proven that he can on some level before, but he needs to get back to that now more than ever in this tough stretch.
5. Will Leonard Fournette be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy Presentation?
After his first game back against Ole Miss, there’s the question of if Leonard Fournette can win the Heisman? Fournette rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns, breaking LSU’s single-game rushing total, after sitting out multiple weeks to get healthy. Alabama looms and Fournette is looking for revenge after last year’s rough day for Fournette against the Tide. If Fournette even rushes for 150+ yards and a couple touchdowns with the Tigers winning, he might find himself back in the mix for the Heisman Trophy. Lamar Jackson has a huge lead at this point, but if the Cardinals don’t win out, that could hurt his case. That leaves someone like Fournette, who could burst back onto the scene to lead LSU to the SEC West, to make it at least to New York. It’s not out of the question, but we’ll have this answer around 11 pm on November 5 as to whether he’s got a chance.