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ATVS Roundtable: 2021 Season Outlook

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How are we feeling heading into the season?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State Spring Game Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

What are your feelings about this 2021 LSU football team. Do they struggle again, do they bounce back, could they even make it to Atlanta/NY6/CFP?

Eric

SO.MANY.FEELINGS!

I’m honestly more optimistic than I can recall in recent memory. Maybe it’s because last year was so bad that I know this team can’t get any worse. Maybe it’s because there appears to be a lot less noise surrounding this team entering camp. If I have a concern it is that offensively, this team gets way too focused on a repeat of 2019. The offense was absolutely not the problem last year. Potentially though, I do like the idea that the QB run is a bigger part of the offense, perhaps even more so than 2019.

Evan

I feel pretty good about this team! I’m super upset about Myles Brennan because I’m certain he would’ve had a big year, but Max Johnson will be more than capable.

I have a feeling this offense will be incredibly efficient. While Max didn’t have as many explosive plays as Myles, he was good at keeping the chains moving consistently. I think the key guys will be the 1-2 punch of TDP and John Emery plus Kayshon Boutte. I predict these three will account for roughly 65 percent of our offensive production, especially early on. I trust the other receivers but since there are so many of them it’ll take a few games to see which ones Max and Peetz really trust. Obviously the O-line is a question mark like always, but the combination of returning starters and a new coach should provide a solid improvement from last year.

As for the defense, the experience of the group should make us pretty comfortable that this will be a solid unit. D-line and the secondary are loaded with talent. While starting LBs don’t stand out as much, the position is extremely deep and there will be tons of guys who will step up and contribute.

The biggest thing this team has going for them is a favorable schedule. Most of the traditionally tougher opponents are at home and the big non-con game is UCLA. The last time LSU faced Chip Kelly in Week 1 it went pretty well.

Max

I gotta say I’m neither feeling particularly good nor particularly bad about this upcoming season, which I sorta hate because neutrality is a little boring. The Myles Brennan injury really really sucked for him, but also because I thought the upside he brought was the only chance for LSU had to potentially elevate to a really great level as a team. Max Johnson is fine, good even, and I think he’ll put up gaudy volume stats in a pass heavy offense but like, the ceiling is a lot lower and in 2021 football I have limited patience for that. The offensive line is going to be a train-wreck again and they run an offense that puts absurd amounts of pressure on it (predominantly empty protections). You’re asking Max Johnson to both process heavily and handle a lot of pressure and I’d really really rather they not do that, he isn’t Joe Burrow. I’d really prefer to see an offense rooted in RPOs and play action vertical shots (think Ole Miss, UNC, Alabama) than one built on drop back quick passing, it’s not 2015, this isn’t the NFL.

As for the good, their CB duo is utopian, it opens up so much for Daronte Jones. I also love Ali Gaye and BJ Ojulari as well as Maason Smith and Neil Farrell on the interior. Mike Jones Jr is a fantastic addition as well. I really like their receiver group despite its youth, with Kayshon Boutte being a potential Biletnikoff. I also think the heavy early down passing will yield some good things.

Jarrett

Last year was just an awfully weird season. LSU was definitely better than its record, but was still the worst LSU team in years. Still, it is hard (for me) to be too upset about a very mediocre season after the best season of all time. LSU was very clearly rebuilding. It sucked but c’est la vie.

This year’s team should be much better, especially defensively. Bo Pelini was objectively not very good last season. If you want evidence of that watch the Miss State game, but why would you want to? Very good riddance to that man. I think it is reasonable to wonder how well LSU will do with its new hires and I expect early on LSU will have some growing pains.

Poseur

Last year doesn’t matter. It’s amazing to me that so many writers and analysts are trying to pretend the data from the 2020 season is indicative of anything at all. Forget about LSU and its epic number of opt outs and injuries so severe that our punter was legitimately taking snaps as the second string quarterback in practice and we started a walk-on at running back in the final game of the season. The fact of the matter is, that didn’t make LSU special. Almost every team was stretched that thin.

Multiple games in the SEC were played despite technically falling below the thresholds set for roster availability for the teams. About half of the conference was scraping the bottom of the barrel simply to fill out game day rosters and get the season played. Last was essentially watching everyone’s B-squad play. Well, except A&M and Bama.

The point here is this: there is nothing to bounce back from. Last year was a bizarre outlier of a season played during a worldwide pandemic. LSU is still one of the most talented programs in the country and the expectations don’t step back one iota.

Zach

I’m really high on this 2021 team. Maybe even dangerously high on this team (bet responsibly kids, call 1-800-GAMBLER). But seriously, there’s no chance whatsoever this team isn’t worlds better than the 2020 team.

First and foremost addition by subtraction is absolutely in play with the changes in the coaching staff. I have more faith in Daronte Jones being a first-time play caller than Bo Pelini who has clearly seen the game pass him by.

Second, I think this team is going to be really good if not great at the positions that win games: pass rush, receivers, and corner. LSU can legitimately go eight-deep along the defensive line and it’s by far and away the deepest group O’s had since taking over. Between Orgeron’s longtime excellence at coaching defensive line and the new energy Andre Carter (who I think will be awesome) will bring, I think this front four could be 2007 good.

I’m excited to finally see Elias Ricks and Derek Stingley Jr. put opposing offenses top-two receivers in jail for the next three months. Is it hyperbole to say Ricks/Stingley tandem could challenge Peterson/Claiborne as the best pair in school history? I don’t think it is. The DBU legacy got humiliated last fall and just about every single one of these dudes came back. Bama likes to call every year following an 11-2 season a “rEvEnGe YeAr” which...fine, but this is a legitimate revenge year. Stingley’s taking home the Thorpe and order will be restored. And receivers? Come on, there’s potentially nine or 10 future pros just in that room alone and stud freshmen will be fighting each other just to get the scraps of playing time.

Personally I think this schedule is pretty fair. UCLA might put up a good fight but I’ve never considered them capable of beating LSU; I’m expecting step backs from Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M and hey look at that all three of those games are in Tiger Stadium. There’s no chance LSU gets got by Mississippi State again, not after last year’s humiliation, and we know how much the Ole Miss game matters to Orgeron.

To be honest, there’s only one game on the schedule I don’t think LSU can win and we all know who it is. Does it actually work out to where LSU only loses one single game in the regular season? Probably not. You can’t guarantee anything in college football but I think this team is talented enough to win at least 10 games and make either the Peach or the Sugar Bowl.