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2017 SEC Football Season Preview: LSU Tigers

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For the first time since 2004, someone other than Les Miles is at the helm to start the season. LSU hopes to make noise in the SEC West again.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2016 record: 8-4

The LSU Tigers are getting ready to be one of the toughest teams to beat this season under new head coach Ed Orgeron.

After dropping Les Miles as head coach halfway through the season, Orgeron was named interim head coach over the final two months. The interim tag was removed November 26 after the Tigers defeated Texas A&M 54-39 to finish the regular season 8-4. He also led them to a Citrus Bowl victory against Louisville.

Under new leadership, a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, and a pretty good defense (again), the LSU Tigers will be the team that others do not want to sleep on.


OFFENSE

With a quarterback in Danny Etling who came in to “rescue” a falling offense early in the season, LSU looked mediocre and it didn’t quite seem cohesive. With good receivers and powerful running backs, it wasn’t enough for the Tigers to be better than they could have been.

They now have a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada. Canada comes Pitt, where they ranked 10th in the nation in points per game and eighth in touchdowns with 45 last season. Pitt averaged approximately 447 total yards per game.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - LSU v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With running back Leonard Fournette leaving for the NFL, Derrius Guice clearly has no problem with picking up where Fournette left off. Last season, Guice rushed for 1,387 yards with 15 touchdowns in place of the injured Fournette. He averaged about 116 yards per game.

Under the new OC, the only thing LSU can do is get better at their offense. Which has been a little bit of crutch for the team. The quarterback situation has not been the best as it should be. Under Les Miles, great running backs could help win games, but quarterbacks sometimes hampered efforts. With Etling being more comfortable with the leadership and Matt Canada’s offensive expertise, the Tigers can, without a doubt, be a team to take seriously.


DEFENSE

There’s not much to say about the defense. Let’s face it, they’ve always been the glue and stick to hold LSU together.

Last season, under then new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the defense allowed the fewest touchdowns (16) and fewest touchdowns per game (1.3) in college football.

The defense was ranked No. 32 in the nation, but I’m looking for their rank to go up this season.


KEY PLAYERS

LSU v Mississippi State Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Arden Key

Although this defensive end didn’t quite meet his goal last season, he was close enough with 12 sacks. Key finished sixth on the team with 56 total tackles and tied for fifth on the team in solo tackles with 24. He was named First Team All-SEC by the media and Second Team All-SEC by the coaches.

He had shoulder surgery in this offseason and will miss the first game of the season against BYU. But Key is looking to make a huge impact in junior year on defense and get those 15-plus sacks that he promised himself to get.

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Derrius Guice

This powerful running back made a big splash last season in replacing the injured Leonard Fournette. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 15 rushing TD. Guice set the school's single-game rushing record with 285 yards and three TDs in their win over Texas A&M on Thanksgiving. He rushed for over 250 yards twice last season against A&M and Arkansas.

He’s the only player in LSU history to do so.

Guice is looking to have another 1,000 rushing yards and 10+ touchdowns this season. He was named the Citrus Bowl MVP last season, First Team All-SEC by the media and coaches. He has set the expectations very high. Can he keep that up?

LSU has been known for their running game. He is a guy who can keep that going.

Florida v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Danny Etling

Now, I admit that I haven't been quite sold on LSU quarterbacks. And Etling is no exception. However, maybe he can change my thoughts this season under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Etling is not an explosive player, let alone quarterback. Last season he threw for over 2,000 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. With a new offense presented, Etling could potentially show why he is the quarterback for LSU and utilize the receivers who are yearning for catches.


PREDICTED RECORD: 10-2

I expect LSU to be that team we know they're capable of being. Their schedule is a fairly easy one and one of the two losses are against, of course, Alabama. However, I would not be shocked if they turn the tables and beat the Crimson Tide this season.

This will an exciting season for the Tigers and fans. A new era has begun with Ed Orgeron and this team is on the prowl!