The preseason projections for the 2020 LSU football team have been wide ranging to this point, something that's to be expected with the Tigers having to replace 14 NFL draft picks and 20 key contributors to the national championship team.
Pundits peg the Tigers anywhere from that 10-win to eight win range and usually in the top-10 of the preseason rankings. Over the weekend, college football analyst Phil Steele, a highly regarded figure in the college ranks, revealed his top-25.
LSU was one of eight SEC teams to appear in the rankings, coming in at No. 6. Other SEC teams to appear in Steele's rankings were Alabama (3), Texas A&M (5), Georgia (7), Florida (13), Auburn (19), Tennessee (20) and Kentucky (21).
Below is Steele's complete top-25:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
- North Carolina
- Virginia Tech
- Oklahoma State
Back in January, the Tigers were ranked No. 10 in the preseason rankings by Sports Illustrated. While LSU enters the season with a few questions marks, the Tigers return enough talent to, at the very least, remain competitive in the SEC West.
With plenty of veteran weapons returning, including Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall, the two big questions revolve around how productive junior quarterback Myles Brennan can be and what will the offensive line look like having to replace four starters up front?
"That is the position that is going to have to show up in order for us to have success," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said on Big Noon Kickoff. "Myles has a really strong arm, he's very talented but we can't expect Myles to be Joe Burrow. If he's Joe Burrow, there's nobody that will be disappointed I promise you that. We’re not going to put a lot of pressure on him. We've got a lot of talent, we've got a lot of receivers. Making the right decisions at the right time will be key."
On defense, the 4-3 defense implemented under new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini will be the biggest adjustment for the Tigers. The depth on the defensive line will be integral in getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and Orgeron feels LSU has the requisite talent up front.
"I really believe we're going to be better on defense, we didn't play to the standard we wanted to play at last year and that's the reason I brought in Bo Pelini," Orgeron said. "Bo has wholesale change opportunity, it's his defense. When I go in there, I'm the assistant defensive line coach, I'm going to support him in any way I can. Scott Linehan has brought in some new ideas, he and Steve [Ensminger] have full control of the offense."
Chase, Marshall, Arik Gilbert, Damone Clark, Jabril Cox, JaCoby Stevens and Derek Stingley Jr. have all appeared on preseason watch lists and All-SEC teams over the past few months. The talent won't be the issue with this team but rather how quickly they can get the chemistry down.
With walkthrough practices set to start later this week, on July 24, it'll finally provide Orgeron and the coaching staff with a first look at how this team will gel together.
"I think you find out a lot about leadership when you go through adversity, when it's tough in camp," Orgeron said. "When everybody's moaning and groaning asking 'why are we practicing so hard?’ Who's going to stand up and say 'no this is the LSU way and this is what we need to do.' That's what I'm looking for."