What Does LSU Football's Potential Look Like Through the Eyes of Analyst Phil Steele?

Tigers roster is talented and stocked full of returning veterans that know what it takes to win a championship
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College football analyst Phil Steele has become one of the more revered experts in the sport and has some very interesting opinions on how the 2020 LSU season will shape out. 

While making an appearance on 92.9 The Game, a radio show in Atlanta, Steele said he doesn't expect the Tigers to be in a rebuilding mode, but rather a retooling one. 

“They are going to reload as opposed to rebuild,” Steele said. “But, we are not going to see a 15-0 LSU team that just dominates teams on a weekly basis and blows away teams in the playoffs."

A few of the major pieces that need replacing will be Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson, Thaddeus Moss, Lloyd Cushenberry, Damien Lewis and Saahdiq Charles. And that's just on the offensive side of the ball. 

LSU returns a nice mix of veterans that will help offset some of the areas of weakness that could pop up on the roster. While coach Ed Orgeron and the staff have been bullish on quarterback Myles Brennan and the new look o-line all offseason, there really isn't much that can be proven until the Tigers take the field. 

"They have only three returning starters on offense and they are breaking in a new quarterback and new offensive line. Defensively, they will be good. They have five starters back," Steele said. "They also have a new defensive coordinator on defense in Bo Pelini who is changing schemes a little bit."

Steele released his preseason top-25 last week, ranking the Tigers at No. 6 overall in the rankings and thinks a top-10 finish to the season is certainly not out of the question. Most preseason projections have the Tigers landing in the 9-3, 10-2 range at the moment. 

How the schedule is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will of course dictate what LSU's record looks like but a two loss season would likely result in a top-10 finish for the program. The SEC will be announcing this week whether the 2020 season will be delayed and what the schedule will look like. 

It's universally believed that a 12-game schedule starting on time is the most unlikely scenario. The more likely scenario is an eight or 10-game schedule, whether it be all-conference or all-conference with one or two non-conference games salvaged.

What the conference could also decide to do is push back the start of the season a couple of weeks to see how the athletes and programs acclimate to college students being back on campus. 

The big concern for each conference at the moment isn't the increase in positive tests but rather the amount of tests that will be available and the increase in hospitalizations.

"The ability to have reliable, available and timely testing is at the top of the list," Sankey said on the Paul Finebaum show. "In order to facilitate what may come--the opportunity to play--that reality around testing is going to be very important. If you asked me today, if we don't have a vaccine,  that testing ability is going to be critical."

Since the return to campus, LSU coach Ed Orgeron has been impressed with the program's response to limiting the amount of positive tests within the program. After an initial spike upon the team's return, Orgeron said the Tigers have done a good job of keeping the players and staff safe.

"We're doing a good job, I think we're giving our guys the best care available," Orgeron said on WWL radio. "Our players feel safe, they feel like they are getting the best care. They're going out there and practicing with their masks on. I do believe we can have fans in the stands and that we can fight through this."