Tigers head into 2017 with new faces, new excitement

Kyle Riviere
LSU junior Derrius Guice returns as the SEC's leading rusher. Photo by

Ed Orgeron has said that being the head coach at LSU was his dream job, something that he has wanted to do all his life. Now, the job is his.

Surrounded by one of the premier coaching staffs in the country and a wealth of talent, it’s now a question of whether Orgeron can reach another dream: winning a national championship.

Orgeron was promoted to head coach last November after leading the Tigers to a 6-2 record following the mid-season firing of Les Miles.

Once he was able to shed the title of interim coach, Orgeron went to work. He was able to convince defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to stick around. In Aranda’s first season, the Tigers gave up just 16 touchdowns, along with 15 points per game.

He then brought in new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Canada is coming off of a season at Pittsburgh where the Panthers averaged 42 points per contest.

With fall practices starting this week, the Tigers’ goal is to put everything together and compete for an SEC title and their first ever College Football Playoff appearance.

All eyes will be on the LSU offense in 2017.

The Tigers have had a well-documented past of offensive futility, and that didn’t change much in 2016.

LSU averaged 28 points per game, but they were only able to score an average of 9 points in their four losses. They were shut out by Alabama.

Canada will bring a new look. He is known to use multiple formations with constant motion, and he likes to keep things balance.

LSU will bring back a lot of firepower for Canada to work with in his first season in Baton Rouge.

The Tigers will return three starters on the offensive line, along with tight end Foster Moreau and starting fullback J.D. Moore.

And though LSU will lose one of the greatest running backs the school has ever seen in Leonard Fournette, they bring back a serious Heisman contender in Derrius Guice.

With Fournette hobbled by an ankle injury last season, Guice made five starts and ended up rushing for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 7.6 yards per carry average.

In the regular season finale against Texas A&M, he set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single game with 285.

Coach Orgeron said that he expects Danny Etling to win the starting job at quarterback.

The senior Purdue transfer took over as starting quarterback during the second game of 2016, after Brandon Harris continued to struggle. Harris has since transferred to North Carolina.

Etling came on strong down the stretch. In his final three games against Florida, Texas A&M and Louisville, he went 50-82 for 745 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception.

LSU will have a green receiving corps in 2017.

Leading receiver Malachi Dupre is gone, along with Travin Dural.

D.J. Chark will be back after a breakout junior season that saw him total 466 yards and three scores.

Russell Gage, Drake Davis and Stephen Sullivan will be expected to step up behind Chark.

The Tigers lost the most on defense in the offseason.

On the defensive line, they lost two key cogs in Davon Godchaux and Lewis Neal. However, the Tigers should still have tremendous depth in the trenches.

Arden Key is coming off of shoulder surgery, but Orgeron said that he should be fine. Though, he was not definite that Key will be healthy enough for the season opener.

Key broke the school record for most sacks in a season last year with 12, and Orgeron said that he has gained 30 pounds over the offseason.

Senior Christian LaCouture will make his return after missing all of 2016 with a torn ACL. He will wear the prized No. 18 this season, which is reserved for the team’s top leader. Moore will wear the No. 18 on offense.

Surging sophomore Rashard Lawrence, Greg Gilmore, Deondre Clark, Frank Herron and Ed Alexander will all be in the rotation.

Also, defensive end/outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson is expected to make some noise as a true freshman. Many have compared him to Key.

Linebacker is where the Tigers were hurt the most in the offseason after losing three-year starting middle backer Kendall Beckwith and senior outside backer Duke Riley.

They will be replaced by senior Donnie Alexander and supremely talented sophomore Devin White.

After missing all of last season with a broken leg, converted safety Corey Thompson will be back to add depth at outside backer.

It is also expected that true freshman Jacob Phillips will be in the mix. Phillips was the top-rated inside backer in this year’s recruiting class.

The LSU secondary lost two first-round NFL draft picks in four-year starter at cornerback Tre’Davious White and safety Jamal Adams.

They look to still be in good shape at corner with talented juniors Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II returning. Toliver had a bit of a sophomore slump last season, but after getting shoulder surgery, the coaches have raved about his progress over the offseason.

Trying to fill the void of losing Adams will be John Battle, Ed Paris (converted corner) and a freshman phenom in Grant Delpit.