We’ve talked about some of the newcomers we’re excited about, but how about some returnees that we expect to maybe break out, or break through, in 2018?
We talked about Curry last week, but it’s gotta by Brossette and Clyde. This is first time in what feels like forever that LSU doesn’t return a running back that has seen a significant amount of time the year prior. A lot has been made about the consistency of LSU’s secondary in the past 15 years but the running back production has been just as good. The jokes about LSU’s passing game and offense have existed since Windows Vista rolled out but the running game has always been there and Ensminger is going to have to lean on that in order to get through this schedule with a winning record. Maybe Curry (and Giles) can get the job done, but we know what football in the SEC is like. Odds are you can’t lean on a first-year freshman to carry the lion’s share of the workload. I’m of the opinion that Brossette is talented but just had the raw luck of injury and playing with Fournette and Guice so I’m excited that he finally has an open chance to get the field time he hasn’t seen in his career.
The running back situation is a big one. I’ll toss out Justin Jefferson, the least heralded Jefferson brother as a recruit, who barely snuck into the 2017 signing class but has drawn rave reviews all Spring and Summer. He’s an odds on favorite to win a starting WR role across from Giles and that’s beating out a slew of more heralded recruits both old and new. Realistically, LSU needs a bunch of these guys to finally step up if they are truly going to successfully shift to a more pass-heavy attack. The other guy who I think we may finally see something from is Ed Paris. He was sadly sidelined with injury last season, but as the elder statesman in the defensive backfield, he should be a quality defensive presence over top. He can be quiet and stable and let the kids (Greedy and Grant) go play.
Nick Brossette and Justin Jefferson are my two. As others have said, there’s a lot of of question marks there for the both of them. There’s a lot of hype behind them, and they have quite a bit of potential. So if they can maximize that, those are two players that are going to make a huge difference on the football field. As Dan mentioned, there are multiple returners on the roster that need to step up. So it’s really anyone’s chance to really get noticed and have a breakout season. The question is as to who will rise to the occasion.
I’ll throw the defense into the pot, namely Rashard Lawrence. He played last season on not one, but two bad ankles and there was still a noticeable difference in LSU’s defensive line with him versus without him. If he’s healthy, Pete Jenkins has gushed about his ability to be as good as any lineman he’s coached -- and that’s a helluva list. He and Breiden Fehoko should be the constants for this defensive line, but this year there should be more than enough depth to give them some breathers and keep them healthy.
Likewise, I expect K’Lavon Chaisson to make a big step up. I don’t know that he’ll be an Arden Key-type off the edge in year two, but he was a much more well-rounded freshman than I would have expected, playing the run well and even making some plays in coverage. Maybe he isn’t a 10 or 12 sack guy right away, but he could be a more balanced overall playmaker.