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Preseason Column: LSU Football Faces Massive Overhaul, Returns Plenty of Talent to Remain Competitive

Tigers will be a tough out, will have a favorable schedule to maneuver in 2020

Good news! LSU held their first padded practice on Monday. The first AP Poll was released. We’re just over a month away from the season opener against Mississippi State. Things are starting to look more positive about the fate of the college football season … for now.

The biggest takeaway heading into the 2020 season is that LSU lost a lot of production, both on the field and in the coaching booth. There’s no way to get around that. Then you add the bizarre and unexpected loss of Marcel Brooks to the transfer portal, along with the loss of three key players that opted-out due to COVID-19, there’s a lot of replacing to do.

That being said, the roster is still riddled with talent. The return of guys like Derek Stingley Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, JaCoby Stevens and others are enough to keep the Tigers in the hunt. But it will be interesting to see how different they look, especially with a new quarterback in Myles Brennan.

There’s also a new 10-game, conference-only schedule to navigate. The Tigers should be 3-0 walking into Gainesville on Oct. 17, with a decent possibility of being 5-0 en route to Auburn for a tough road test.

So, what are the realistic expectations for this year? I think it’s still three losses. With a first-year starter at quarterback and a significant overhaul of the roster, there’s going to be a game you think you’ll have in the bag that ends up being a loss. At first glace, the Alabama game right now is going to be tough to win and traveling to the Swamp to take on Florida is a game early that has a loss written all over it. Then, a split between at Auburn and Texas A&M seems most likely.

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“I think it’s a very favorable schedule, Orgeron said last week on 104.5 ESPN’s Off The Bench. “But it’s a schedule where we’re going to have to play well each week.”

If LSU can just stay in the hunt for a while, that will say a lot about Ed Orgeron. They don’t need to win the national championship again for him to prove he’s among the elite. But with the amount the team lost, it would be impressive for the Tigers to remain relevant despite all of that.

Players to Watch: Myles Brennan, Arik Gilbert, Liam Shanahan, Jabril Cox and Cordale Flott.

These are just a handful of players that have a lot to prove in 2020 and could make-or-break the outcome of the season. The relationship between a quarterback and center, in particular, is as important as any of the field, and in 2019, it was seamless between Burrow and Cushenberry. It will certainly be an underrated storyline to see how Brennan and Harvard grad-transfer Liam Shanahan handle the opportunity this season.

Prediction: LSU goes 8-2.