Well, fall camp starts tomorrow. The SEC seems, for better or worse, committed to playing football. So what are you all looking for now that the defending champs are hitting the practice field? And who do you think will be the new No. 18?
Well, there’s a lot I’m dying to see this fall camp. This is a low stakes season competitively for the program, so I’m looking forward to it being pretty chill on Saturdays (if this doesn’t all blow up). The first thing I’m looking for is health, will there be a major COVID outbreak with everyone coming back to campus at once? My hopes are not high for this, but we’ll find out. Football wise, it’s all about Arik Gilbert for me, is he healthy? How is he adjusting to the system and competition level? Stuff like that. I’m also interested to find out how they’re adjusting to the inundation of defensive installs that occur in a new system. With such a stunted, malformed offseason, system changes could be BRUTAL. As for number 18, it’s JaCoby Stevens, it’s gotta be right?
Obviously, the number of positive cases is the biggest thing to watch for LSU as well as the rest of the SEC. Everything else is irrelevant if that number doesn’t stay low, but since we already know all about that, I’ll focus on the football side of things.
I’m most curious about which wide receivers get the most snaps behind Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall. Racey McMath should be a lock for No. 3 and he’ll back it up with his unique combination of size and speed. Beyond him, there are lots of different ways things could go. Sophomore Trey Palmer is talented and probably would have played more as a freshman if he wasn’t sitting behind the best receiving corps in school history. You also have Jontre Kirklin and Jaray Jenkins who have seen the field here and there, as well as four-star freshmen Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore. Sorting out this jumbled depth chart should be a fascinating task.
All eyes will be on Myles Brennan. The last two championship-winning LSU QBs frequently talked about waiting three years to finally get their chance to lead a team. Depending on what happens with COVID, Brennan could end up waiting longer than anyone for his turn. Poor guy, but if you’re superstitious it’s a good sign.
Like Max said, JaCoby Stevens has to have No. 18 on lockdown (I believe I called this earlier than anybody!) but if they decide to give it to guys on both offense and defense, I think Chris Curry or maybe Tory Carter could don the number as well.
As far as the No. 18, Jacoby Stevens is the hot name, but I think Racey McMath would be a good choice. Wasn’t a big name when he got here, kind of got lost in the shuffle as an underclassman, became this special teams ace, was able to shine last year in a loaded receiving group, and is now poised to be a big player in the passing game, even with other highly regarded guys in the mix. I could also make a choice for a Kary Vincent, Todd Harris, or Damone Clark.
On the camp side, the big thing is the personnel on the defensive side of the ball. There are obviously favorites, but it really seems like almost all the spots on the defensive side of the ball are open. The focus is certainly more so on the front seven, but the secondary as well.
The question everyone has is how will Myles Brennan follow up Joe Burrow’s epic 2019 campaign, but I’m wondering who will be the starting center? Back in the spring it looked like Chasen Hines would be the guy who would hike it to Brennan, but what was Orgeron’s critique? “He’s gotta get the snap down.” In comes Liam Shanahan and now he’s the starting center and Hines has slid over to right guard, his natural position per Orgeron.
I’m also wondering which running back separates themselves from the pack. Like I said in our position preview, there’s a case to be made for all three of the returning backs: Chris Curry’s the most veteran, Ty Davis-Price is the leading returning rusher and John Emery is probably the most talented. O has also really been talking up Kevontre Bradford, when people ask about which freshmen have stood out, Orgeron puts Bradford right there with Arik Gilbert and Kayshon Boutte.
Defensively I’m curious which corner starts opposite Stingley. Can Elias Ricks make it two years in a row LSU has an outstanding true freshman starting at corner, or does one of the sophomores like Cordale Flott, Jay Ward or Raydarious Jones seize the opportunity? Also how does Damone Clark handle being the man in the middle for LSU and what kind of shape is Tyler Shelvin in? O mentioned on his weekly interview with Off the Bench that Shelvin’s weight has gone up and “he still has some academic work to do.”
As for No. 18 I’ll make it unanimous and say JaCoby Stevens is the runaway favorite to carry on the tradition. If Jacob Hester publicly endorses you to wear the 18, that’s all the convincing I need. If LSU goes with multiple 18s like last year with K’Lavon Chaisson and Lloyd Cushenberry and in 2017 with Christian LaCouture and J.D. Moore, I’ll cast my vote for Chris Curry.