In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
[divider]RANKINGS: Top 100 FBS Teams for 2018
TRIVIA: Daily CFB Trivia Question
MORE: Best FBS Player for Each Jersey Number
MORE: Best FCS Player for Each Jersey Number[divider]
No. 36 LSU
LSU is facing a tough schedule and their two-deep isn't laced with as much talent as years' past, but with guys like Devin White, Jonathan Giles and Greedy Williams, the Tigers have enough pieces to win at least eight games for a fifth straight season and scare some high-level teams.
Is that good enough for a program like LSU? No, of course not.
2017 Record: 9-4 (6-2, SEC)
The good: LSU improved their win total under a first-year head coach and beat eventual SEC West champ Auburn.
The bad: LSU failed to win 10 games for the fourth straight season and suffered their worst-ever loss to Mississippi State.
And the ugly: LSU lost to Troy at home. Never mind that Troy won the Sun Belt, finished with 11 wins, and was one of the best Group of Five teams in the country. When you're LSU, you don't lose to Troy at home.
Head Coach: Ed Orgeron (2nd Year, 9-4)
Ed Orgeron is entering his third season as head coach and has an official LSU record of 15-6 but because the first eight games came after replacing Les Miles in 2016, we'll call him 9-4 in one year.
The 56-year-old former LSU defensive lineman said he's more settled entering this season than last year and the program is "more equipped to compete in the SEC."
Is Orgeron on the hot seat? Probably.
QB Danny Etling, RB Derrius Guice, RB Darrel Williams, WR D.J. Chark, WR Russell Gage, C Will Clapp, DE Arden Key, DE Christian Lacouture, DT Greg Gilmore CB Donte Jackson
LSU had seven selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, bringing their total from the last two years to 15 selections. While Derrius Guice, Will Clapp, Donte Jackson and the other draftees will be missed dearly, the departures of guys like Christian Lacouture and Darrel Williams are also notable. Williams averaged 5.7 yards per carry last year and was valuable as a receiver, averaging 14.4 yards on 23 receptions.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Myles Brennan, QB Justin McMillan, RB Nick Brossette, WR Justin Jefferson, WR Stephen Sullivan, TE Foster Moreau, OT Saahdiq Charles, G Garrett Brumfield, G Ed Ingram
LSU's offense wasn't good by any means but it wasn't as awful as you may recall. They were miserable in the red zone and against the pass rush, but they averaged a respectable 5.9 yards per play, converted 42 percent of their third-down attempts, averaged 14.2 yards per completion and scored at least 27 points in five of their eight conference games.
It wasn't good enough for offensive coordinator Matt Canada to retain his job. He was replaced by tight ends coach Steve Ensminger, a former Tigers' quarterback who will run a pro-style system that includes the run-pass option, no-huddle and often puts three and four receivers on the field.
"Every formation we get in, every personnel we get in, I plan on being able throw the quick game," he said in January. "I plan on being able to do the RPOs. I plan on being able to throw the intermediate pass routes To throw trick plays and everything else. It's a fine line . . . but you have to do it all out of that personnel."
The million-dollar question: Who's the person actually throwing the football?
Sophomore Myles Brennan was given the first opportunity in spring ball but didn't separate himself enough from junior Justin McMillan or redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse to earn the nod. Add in Ohio State grad transfer Joe Burrow and this might be a rare four-man race in fall camp.
Brennan (below) is a 6-foot-4, 193-pound former four-star recruit who struggled as a true freshman last year, often double clutching, throwing into coverage and getting skittish in the pocket.
LSU doesn't return any players who had at least 20 rush attempts or 25 receptions last year. Senior Nick Brossette is expected to get first crack at running back, and Foster Moreau is back at tight end after catching 24 passes last year, his first as a regular contributor. Junior receiver Stephen Sullivan is one of the most intriguing players on the roster. He's massive (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) and showed some big-play ability in averaging 20 yards per catch in 2017.
Outside of left guard Garrett Brumfield, the offensive line rotation is young, though most guys have experience. Both Ed Ingram and Saahdiq struggled initially as a freshmen last year but improved dramatically in late October and November.
Returning Defensive Players
DE Rashard Lawrence, NT Ed Alexander, BUCK K'Lavon Chaisson, LB Devin White, CB Greedy Williams, S John Battle, S Grant Delpit
When you're paying defensive coordinator Dave Aranda $10 million over four years, you better have a darn good defense. And the pieces are there for a darn good defense; they return All-American-caliber players at each level.
Aranda's base defense is still a 3-4 but he'll run a version of the nickel — or "peso," as he calls it — often. His version is 2-4-5 (he'll also run one-man fronts), which hopes to capitalize on the unit's speed and improve against the pass without sacrificing run defense. For the second straight year, they allowed more than 12 yards per completion.
"The more base we played, I felt like the run defense got better, but I felt like our pass defense suffered for it," he said in February. In the perfect world, you’d be able to play nickel but have someone you’re comfortable with and savvy enough to be able to play the run and then when it’s pass, be able to have matchups you want."
The star is Devin White, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound outside linebacker who's deadly on the blitz and had twice as many tackles as any other LSU player last year.
Up front, Rashard Lawrence isn't an every-down pass-rusher but he and buck end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson will be tasked with keeping LSU's pass rush potent (12th-best sack rate in the FBS last year). Chaisson played well in the spring game, routinely flying around the edge toward the quarterback.
Sophomore corner Greedy Williams is a future first-round draft pick after a sensational freshman season. They do, however, need another corner to emerge opposite him or teams will simply ignore the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Williams.
QB Joe Burrow, QB Lowell Narcisse, WR Jonathan Giles, DE Breiden Fehoko, DT Tyler Shelvin, CB Terrence Alexander
Joe Burrow made Ohio State's spring quarterback battle closer than expected, often outperforming heavy favorite Dwayne Haskins, but ultimately opted to transfer. He's only attempted 39 passes in his career but has shown good decision-making in practice and is a capable runner.
Don't let Lowell Narcisse's dual-threat game or occasional passing struggles fool you; he is not another Brandon Harris or one of LSU's several former quarterbacks who couldn't throw a ball. He's legit and will get a shot.
Elsewhere, Texas Tech transfers Jonathan Giles and Breiden Fehoko are in line for huge roles after sitting out last year, redshirt freshman Tyler Shelvin is a big dude who will see time behind Ed Alexander, and Stanford transfer Terrence Alexander will have every opportunity during fall camp to earn a spot alongside Greedy Williams.
LSU's Week 1 game vs. Miami (FL) at AT&T Stadium is just their third meeting with the Hurricanes since 1969 — and their first in the regular season since 1988.
They open SEC play two weeks later at Auburn and have a tricky non-conference game vs. Louisiana Tech in Week 4.
|Sunday, Sept. 2||vs. Miami (FL)|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||vs. SE Louisiana|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||at Auburn|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||vs. Louisiana Tech|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||vs. Ole Miss|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||at Florida|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||vs. Georgia|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||vs. Mississippi State|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||vs. Alabama|
|Saturday, Nov. 10||at Arkansas|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||vs. Rice|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||at Texas A&M|