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Has Any Team Had More Turnover in Such a Short Amount of Time Than LSU Football in 2020?

Tigers have lost more talent than most while trying to defend national championship run
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Has any major college football team gone through a bigger transformation in such a short amount of time than LSU in 2020? It's a relevant question considering the massive overhaul that has transpired since January. 

Forget the loss of Joe Burrow, LSU's greatest quarterback ever and an unquestioned top-five player in the program's history, if not higher. It starts with Burrow and carries over to 13 of his fellow teammates who joined him in the 2020 NFL Draft and were selected. It extends to defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and passing game coordinator Joe Brady who left for a head coaching job with Baylor and offensive coordinator job with the Carolina Panthers.

The roster turnover then extended into the offseason as the program has seen the departure of veterans Neil Farrell, Justin Thomas, TK McLendon and Kary Vincent in the last month alone. And on Sunday the departures reached a boiling point with the report that star junior receiver Ja'Marr Chase would opt out of the 2020 season, followed by defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin on Monday.

"The competitor in me badly wants to play the season and go to war with my brothers, but during this time, with so much going on, this is what's best for my family," Chase wrote in a social media post on Monday. "I appreciate each and every one of my teammates for your hard work and pushing me to get better every day. There is nothing I want to do more than suit up in No. 7 for the LSU Tigers."

The move, while surprising, was not unexpected as Chase has accomplished all that he needs in order to solidify his position as a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Shelvin's move was a little more surprising as the knock against the uber talented defensive tackle has always been can he manage his weight. 

It opens up that question as to how much can this team lose without expecting some sort of significant dropoff. Orgeron said during Tuesday's media zoom call that there are "one or two" other players who are considering opting out of the 2020 season.

All of a sudden this is a young team with not a ton of experience on either side of the ball. The team currently has five returning starters combined from last year's national championship team:

Offense

• Terrace Marshall Jr.

• Austin Deculus

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Defense

• JaCoby Stevens

• Derek Stingley Jr.

• Glen Logan

“It's gonna happen on a championship team. I don't remember because I wasn't the head coach the amount of the turnover because I didn't have to face that at Miami and USC, but I'm sure we had 'em,” Orgeron said Tuesday. “But it's next man up. And that's why we've gotta recruit. But that's why you're at LSU. You have some good young players that can play. I know our guys are gonna step up. It is a lot of turnover. But it's a great challenge for our staff."

LSU was ranked No. 6 in the first preseason poll two weeks ago before the opt outs had reached its peak. There was optimism that the top end talent this team possessed in guys like Chase and Shelvin would overcome some of the inexperience on the roster.

That’s no longer the case and some college football analysts are ready to jump off the LSU train in 2020 because of it. ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum is among the doubters after the recent news from Chase.

“I respect what Coach O has done down there and, you know, he’s got a lot of great recruiting, but I mean this is to me, if you go into the SEC season looking for one thing – what is LSU going to look like?” Finebaum in a radio interview. “Because of what I just got through saying, (Chase’s decision) was a body blow yesterday. You’ve now lost your quarterback, your best running back and your two best wide receivers from last year team, that was a really good offense in case anybody missed it.”

It's an historic level of turnover, that much can't be denied. Part of that comes with the historic nature of the 2019 season, one that saw the offense score the most points in college football history. Another part comes from the pandemic and the uncertainty swarming around the college football season. 

Pick whatever reasoning fits best but the fact of the matter is this team looks vastly different than the one we saw nine months ago and expectations should be tempered. There's plenty of talent remaining and the development we've heard about Myles Brennan has been nothing but glowing. 

But there are real concerns as to how far this team can go that have only been magnified with the departure of some of its best players.