Less than a year ago, LSU was on top of the College Football world. They had a Heisman Trophy winner, a number one draft pick, a record number of players drafted, and a College Football Playoff championship. Despite losing the majority of their starters, LSU was still projected to be one of the best teams in the nation. Lately, however, it seems as though the Tigers cannot catch a break.
It began two weeks ago when some unsettling news was released about former LSU running back Derrius Guice. It was reported that, as a freshman, Guice sexually assaulted two women while at the university. Furthermore, some news outlets even stated that LSU head coach Ed Orgeron knew of the allegations. They suggested that he kept the allegations under wraps. Coach O has since denied these rumors and firmly stated that he knew nothing of the situation. Regardless of Coach O’s knowledge, the Guice news is not a good look for LSU’s football program.
Since these allegations, LSU has taken more hits to their football team. Four key players have opted out of the 2020 season. JaMarr Chase headlines this list, as he announced on Sunday via twitter that he will be instead preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase was the best receiver in college football last season, so his departure significantly hurts LSU’s offense.
In addition to Chase, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin and defensive back Kary Vincent Jr have also opted out. They will also be training for the 2021 NFL Draft. Losing two veteran leaders on an already depleted defense in comparison to last season is not what Coach O could have wanted for his program in 2020. Finally, senior defensive lineman Neil Farrell also opted out of the 2020 season. While he is less significant than Shelvin and Vincent Jr, defensive line depth is tough to come by, so his departure will hurt the Tigers as well.
LSU has already lost four players for the 2020 season, but the program is actually expecting to lose more. According to Coach Orgeron, multiple players are thinking about opting out as well. By the start of the college football season, we could very well see a completely different LSU football team than expected. A projected top 10 team will now be led by some inexperienced, albeit still talented, young prospects. Players like Derek Stingley Jr and Terrance Marshall Jr should still hold down the fort, but it is now harder to expect LSU to beat SEC powerhouses such as Alabama, Florida, Auburn, and maybe Georgia if they meet.
For the final piece of bad news, the Tigers still have not named a starting quarterback. Myles Brennan is the favorite, but Coach O is still not willing to label him the week one starter. He has praised the signal caller, but is still keeping the position open. Maybe this is nothing to read into, but it suggests that Brennan’s play has not exceeded expectations, to say the least. With most teams naming a week one starter, most notably Oklahoma, LSU’s quarterback decision deserved to be questioned. Brennan will likely still be the guy, but why has the team not announced that?
The Tigers are looking to win back to back National Championships this season. However, the news surrounding the team at the moment is not promising. LSU has to continue facing the Guice situation. They also will have to adapt to their new roster post-opt out. They will have to completely overcome these issues throughout the season in order to win another title.