A nauseating feeling sunk into my stomach two Saturday’s ago as the fourth down pass fell incomplete and Alabama had officially come into Baton Rouge and walked out of LSU’s campus with a win.
The Tigers busted their butts and played a hell of a game on that night. To finish second was a heartbreaking and devastating feeling of disappointment to this LSU grad. I know I’m supposed to be objective, but my home school is my home school. It hurts my pride and pains my soul when the Crimson Tide better LSU on the gridiron – especially when it comes in a game that the Tigers could have easily won if the ball had bounced differently a few times throughout the night.
But the sun came up again on Sunday morning, and my feeling of optimism for my alma mater’s football team slowly started to come back amidst the disappointment and the heartbreak.
LSU may be struggling in 2014 – a non-factor in the inaugural College Football Playoff landscape.
But opposing teams better enjoy beating LSU today because they may not enjoy the same fate in the future.
With a roster glittered with talented underclassmen, I’m beginning to think that the Tigers will be a big-time force for the next two or three seasons.
Offensively, LSU is awfully vanilla today – an unbalanced attack that doesn’t yet have the ability to get 10 yards in three plays to sustain success.
It’s not because of a lack of talent. The Tigers’ roster is loaded with skill guys who would thrive in other offenses around the country. LSU is just hamstrung because sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings is awful – easily the worst starting quarterback LSU has had in the Miles/Saban era.
But with an offseason to progress, I can see a world where Jennings’ most significant action in 2015 will be holding a clipboard and fetching water for the guys on the field. I fully expect true freshman Brandon Harris to start under center for the Tigers next year. He was too raw this year to fully take over the job, but I don’t see any scenario where he’s not the starter in the future.
The kid just does too many things well to be behind a trainwreck like Jennings on the depth chart.
He’s a better pure passer, and he’s a better runner. With an offseason to obtain a better grasp of the playbook, he’ll take over in the future.
Assuming Harris or Jennings aren’t downright awful, LSU’s offense is in line to thrive. Halfback Leonard Fournette is already a stud as a true freshman. As a sophomore, we fully expect Mr. Heisman to be calling his name. Combined with fellow freshman Darrel Williams and incoming LSU Blue Chip commitment Derrius Guice, the Tigers are expected to have plenty of talent in the backfield.
That, of course, will put a smile on Les Miles’ face, because we all know how much the Mad Hatter loves to run the football.
On the off occasion that LSU decides to test fate and attempt a pass, the Tigers should be set with playmakers at receiver, assuming the quarterbacks progress in their ability to get them the ball.
Current No. 1 threat Travin Dural will be back assuming he doesn’t forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. True freshman Malachi Dupre will be back no matter what, and he’s probably a more gifted player than Dural is anyway. Also returning will be true freshman Trey Quinn.
On the offensive line, the Tigers are slated to lose a lot of key names, but one thing Les Miles has always done is recruit heavy on the big guys. The names may not be the same, but I’d bet on LSU being able to open some holes in the trenches.
But at the end of the day, it’s offense that wins games and defense that wins championships, right?
LSU will have a championship-caliber defense in the future.
In the past few weeks of the regular season, the Tigers’ have been lights out defensively under elite coordinator John Chavis.
The Tigers stymied both Ole Miss, Kentucky and Alabama in consecutive games – three of the top statistical offenses in the league.
The best part about LSU’s defensive success is that the names on that side of the ball are young – most will return next season.
Start with the backbone of the Tigers’ efforts, namely middle linebacker extraordinaire Kendell Beckwith. He’s just a sophomore. He’ll be back, and he’ll be an absolute terror in 2015.
What about lockdown cornerback Tre’Davious White? Another sophomore. He’ll be back.
Or how ‘bout true freshman sensation Jamal Adams – a kid that has looked a lot like the Honey Badger in LSU’s dime and nickel packages? He’ll be back.
With the exception of a few bits and pieces here and there, the entire LSU defense will remain in tact next season – a scary thought for opposing offensive coordinators.
They’re already good right now. Imagine how great they’ll be in the future with a little more seasoning and experience.
Of course, games aren’t played on paper, and LSU will have to physically put the work in to make this all happen.
But when looking at the situation from afar, it surely looks like LSU is going to be OK in the future.
Opponents had better beat the Tigers today because there’s no guarantee that the same opportunity will present itself in the future.
Once those freshmen and sophomores mature into upperclassmen, the sky will be the limit for their successes.