1. It’s still pretty amazing to think about how incredible LSU was a season ago. There will be a precipitous drop off from last year, but do you think this team can contend for a National Championship again?
Chris Novak: Look, I understand that they lost practically every important person on offense from last year besides Terrace Marshall Jr. I also do understand they lost key contributors on defense. But let’s be real here: This team still has oodles of talent. They have the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country coming in after having the fifth-ranked recruiting class in the country last year. There may be drop offs from being one of the greatest college football teams ever. But to me, it’s crazy that people seem to think it is a foregone conclusion that they seemingly aren’t contenders. I think they can and will contend, and per usual, LSU-Alabama will have sky high stakes.
Robert O’Neill: They’re still very talented but I think the losses are just so significant. You can only go with the “next man up” mentality so much here. You’re asking to replace an insane amount of talent. Not to say LSU will be bad, but it’s hard to imagine them being better than Alabama this season.
2. It’s impossible to fill Joe Burrow’s shoes, but how do you see Myles Brennan faring this season?
Chris Novak: Not having Ja’Marr Chase is an unfortunate circumstance for Brennan. But with that being saidI think he winds up doing pretty well for himself. He’s got an experienced offensive line in front of him to help protect him, including two Preseason All-SEC selections in Ed Ingram and Austin Deculus. He’ll also have the aforementioned Terrace Marshall Jr., Racey McMath and All-SEC Third Team selection Arik Gilbert to toss the ball to. He won’t put up Burrow numbers, Lord knows only Joe Burrow can do that. But I think Brennan is more than capable of handling the position.
Robert O’Neill: He won’t be Burrow, obviously. But I think Brennan can be fine. I agree that not having Chase helps but they have plenty of other receivers who can step up and help Brennan along.
3. The star of LSU’s vaunted defense is Derek Stingley Jr. Do you think he becomes the fourth straight SEC player (and second straight LSU player) to win the Thorpe Award?
Chris Novak: There isn’t a better defensive back in the country than Derek Stingley Jr., so yes I do think that he can win the Thorpe Award and keep it in the SEC. And, heck, keep it in Baton Rouge after Grant Delpit won it last season. The kid is just so damn good.
Robert O’Neill: Stingley might be the best defensive back they’ve had in a long time. And that’s no offense to anyone who has played for LSU in the past. That’s just how good Stingley is.
4. With all the departures, who’s a player on offense and on defense that you see emerging this season?
Chris Novak: I really like John Emery on offense. If we know anything about LSU, it’s that while they’ve had their sea of issues at QB pre-Joe Burrow, they sure as hell know how to let their running backs shine. Emery was the second-ranked running back recruit in the 2019 class behind the uber-talented Trey Sanders of Alabama. So, he certainly has the pedigree to make it happen.
Defensively, I’ll look away from the stars of the team in Stingley, JaCoby Stevens and Glen Logan and I will pick Damone Clark. He flew a little under the radar last year while Patrick Queen and K’Lavon Chaisson stole the attention in the linebacker corp. But with those two gone, I think Clark picks up right where he left off and motors onward.
Robert O’Neill: I think offensively a very easy answer is Myles Brennan, who isn’t Joe Burrow but will be fine. I like the answer of Clark a lot on defense too. I think he showed a lot of good flashes last season and am looking forward to watching him here.
5. Predict LSU’s record in 2020.
Chris Novak: 9-1
Robert O’Neill: 8-2