Well, LSU finished the 2018 season 9-3, 5-3 in conference play, and now awaits its bowl destination. What are your thoughts, and what will you remember from this season?
LSU finished ahead of my expectations. I penciled in 8-4 preseason. LSU beat that by one game. This season brought some truly memorable, outstanding moments: Phillips pick-six against Miami, the Dillon TD & Tracy FG vs. Auburn, and just stomping Georgia into a fine pulp in the second half. The Georgia game, in particular, is the one you will latch onto if you are looking for signs that Orgeron is taking this team out of it’s very good 9-10 win status and into upper echelons.
On the flip side, you’ll look at the performances against Florida, Arkansas and A&M and think LSU’s still stuck in the same solid state. It’s not at all bad, and it’s definitely not “mediocre” but it means the program lacks upward mobility. The offense is still infertile and the defense never really ascended to next level greatness this year the way we expected. The special teams were wildly improved, even if it didn’t reflect in our return game. My question is what signs do we have that LSU’s ready to take the next step? Offseason roster building will play a huge role in that discussion so we aren’t ready for it yet. But do you feel confident Ensminger can turn out a top 30 offense? How much closer does LSU get to even approaching Alabama’s level? Will they continue to evolve and improve or is this simply their level? I think it may be the latter.
I agree that we’ll always have the Georgia game as a high water mark. And personally, I don’t think the Florida game was that bad. It was a well-fought game that came down to one drive where Florida executed better on offense than LSU did on defense. I haven’t lost much sleep over that game, unlike the Alabama game were LSU just got run out of their own stadium and the A&M game where the pillar of what the Tigers leaned on collapsed.
I think E did a good job, especially considering he was working with what has to be the worst offensive line LSU has fielded in the program’s Golden Era and no true top tier feature back for the first time in forever. That can be true and I can still believe that the offense needs somebody new and proven to step in and lead them. I see no reason at all why LSU can’t outbid Kliff’s services, and if O means what he said when he got the head job then that means he’ll fight like hell for him. And if Kliff gets a head coach offer elsewhere, then the focus turns to somebody like Mike Sanford. Or Larry Fedora. O can’t let the way the Canada situation went south make him retreat into the security blanket of his guys. That may make the vibe in the locker room improve, but it won’t get LSU back into the top tier.
Honestly, I’m thrilled with this season. We got two genuine classic wins that we’ll always remember, and we had a classic controversial loss to A&M that over time will become one hell of a Remember Berry. It also gives the team a motivation for next season. There’s something to be said for ending the season on a crushing loss in which the players genuinely feel like they had something taken away from them. That’s a motivator for all off season.
What’s most encouraging is just how much of the roster Orgeron has turned over in his two years. This is an extremely young team, one of the youngest in all college football when looking at the two-deep. Orgeron also deserves plaudits for how many fingers he stuck in the dyke to plug holes in the roster through creative offseason moves. He had transfers and JUCOs all over the roster, plus his relentless campaign for Kristian Fulton paid off. Most of these transfers paid off, though Giles and Alexander disappointed. Next year, Orgeron likely won’t be nearly as forced to resort to the same kind of roster chicanery. The future is taking shape, and it looks bright.
Joe Burrow has blossomed into a leader and legit starting quarterback. He ends the season with 57.4-percent completion rate, something that seemed impossible midseason. He got better as the year went on. Justin Jefferson put up top 10 receiving numbers in the SEC, and is the best underclassmen receiver outside of Tuscaloosa. The offensive line, while still a work in progress, has started to take shape and has an influx of talent coming in. The defense had just one senior in the two-deep when healthy. Sure, they’ll lose Greedy, probably Devin and one other player, but there is a ton of talent returning next season. This team is simply not yet fully formed, and had a great year in what really was a rebuilding year.
But forget about rebuilding or looking ahead... this was one of the single most entertaining and exciting seasons in recent memory. This team also had miles of heart, playing through more than its share of adversity. Sometimes, when looking to the future and what we’re building, you forget to enjoy the Now. The present was amazing and this season was a total and utter blast. It’s seasons like this why we are fans. If you sit around just waiting for the championship, you’re missing out on the full beauty and glory of college football. This was an easy team to root for, they played over their heads, and they gave us some games that will go down into Tiger Lore forever. what more could you want from a season of football?
But yeah, we really could use a new OC.
This is where I’m at. This isn’t inherently an LSU specific problem, though we certainly exaggerate it, but we wait 7 months for the season to get here, talk about how much we miss it and how much we need college football back in our lives, and then it gets here and all we do is talk about whether the offense is fixed.
There’s seven months of the offseason to talk about what the offense can do better. There’s only three months of actual LSU football. And in those three months we got a genuinely fun and exciting season, where LSU beat a Top-5 team by 20 points, beat some premium opponents in big games, and took on the toughest schedule in the country, one that many people said wouldn’t see them win more than six games.
LSU has a legitimate shot to go 11-1 and be in the Top 5 next year if they get past Texas in Austin in the early going, and if that team with almost the entire offense back, bringing in an elite recruiting class and still having a great defense can’t be elite, then yeah, there’s probably time for some introspection into the program.
But for now, they had a genuinely fun and exciting season that still presents them with the chance to play in a premier bowl game and to make an improvement in the W-L column from a year ago against a tougher schedule. That’s cool!
There were a ton of fun games but this program is always going to be a three/four loss team until the offense gets fixed. How we’ve had better passing offenses with Brandon Harris running the show is incredible to me. The changes this year were mostly cosmetic. There was a lot more 11 personnel, which I liked. However, the lack of diversity in the concepts was not good enough. Running that double slant or that 3-verts play every time was too much for me. They tried to fix the protection issue by keeping more people in protection and full sliding (a classic LSU fix) which, in my opinion, made the offense less dynamic. Not enough use of a 6-8 tight end matchup problem by always having him lined up inline or in a wing. The offense might have looked like it was in 2018 but it really wasn’t.
I think this team more or less hit it’s level. Just a handful of seniors, almost no production returning on offense, tough schedule -- this team was never going to be much of a title contender. My view on this year was always as something of a transition. A chance to build and move things forward towards 2019.
I said it over the summer — losing five or six games would mean losing virtually every toss-up game, and LSU certainly didn’t do that. They were able pull off a couple of close wins, lost two close ones, won one huge marquee game and lost another. That’s not what we all want for this program, but I think that’s a successful year for this team.
But now, it’s time to keep the train moving and show that he can control the things that he can control. A big part of Ed Orgeron’s plan for this program involved recruiting well and keeping underclassmen around longer. I don’t think he’s going to keep all of them (Greedy Williams and Devin White will be top-20 picks and probably should take advantage of that), but he needs to keep players like Kristian Fulton, Michael Divinity, Breiden Fehoko and Rashard Lawrence around. Then close strong in recruiting, manage whatever staff movement comes and keep things moving forward.
There was a lot of fun. The Georgia game will always be memorable. Watching Devin White and Grant Delpit put together two of the better individual performances in LSU history. Nick Brossette gave everything he had for this team. And for his inconsistencies, Joe Burrow gave us every drop of sweat he had, and some great moments. And there could still be more with a potential marquee bowl slot like the Fiesta or the Peach.
That’s not a bad step forward. Now, we find out how Orgeron and Co. build on it.
I feel like seasons are flying by at this point — just yesterday it was July and we were being left as roadkill on the side of the Conference, only to be standing here, four months later, with only three (alleged) loses. I think back to August, the day when we had two backup QBs leave (I don’t blame them), when off-field issues seemed as if they may be the biggest storyline for LSU. I was outwardly optimistic but inwardly scared. And then … Miami. It’s an unpopular opinion round these parts, but I actually love starting the season with a big time game on a neutral site like our game against Miami. LSU made a statement in that game, introducing itself to the nation as a contender, following it up a few weeks later with a Very LSU Win against Auburn that will warm my heart for decades to come. Then beating Ole Miss, Georgia, State and Arky, too.
I’m not one to be angry in victory, now matter how sloppy it is. I wanna win and if we win I’m okay. (Another unpopular take sometimes.) And yeah, we lost to Florida, but I got to eat from a barbecued gator stuffed with boudin and I managed to keep my perfect Lyft rating despite doing shots, so the day wasn’t a total loss.
Regardless of where we land in the bowls, in so many moments this season, We Were Infinite. Maybe we should’t have let Auburn come down to a walkoff field goal to win, but I can still feel the breath I was holding rushing from my lungs as I jumped around screaming when Cole made that kick. And we just walloped Georgia. Man, I wanna go back and watch that game right now.
They weren’t sure we’d win five whole games and instead we won FIVE IN A ROW. Hell, I’m even still impressed by the sheer volume and persistence of Booing in Tiger Stadium when Devin White got tossed for targeting, which I remember more than the outcome of the game (we beat State).
I don’t love a lot of what happened in the home stretch (hate losing to Bama, but I’ve learned how to manage the pain), but, man, I now have a justifiable reason beyond “they’re just weird” to hate the Aggies for the rest of my life, which means that alleged defeat wasn’t a total loss either.
‘Bec Mon Tchu, s’il vous plait, SEC haters.