While the Tigers prepare for the start of the 2021 campaign in early September, let’s take a look at the schedule that lies before them.
After the Tigers wrap up their homecoming game against Georgia State, they will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for their first SEC game in the game dubbed “Tiger Bowl” against LSU.
LSU leads the series with 31 wins to Auburn’s 23, but Auburn won the most recent matchup 48-11. But the Tigers will be played in Death Valley, where they haven’t come out on top since 1999.
LSU will be looking to prove themselves again after a dismal season in 2020.
The Tigers are coming off a 5-5 record in 2020 having fallen to Mississippi State, Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama, with wins over Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss.
The LSU offense in 2021 will be loaded with plenty of talent after the previous season being the definition of inconsistent. After averaging 32 points per game last season, LSU brings in a new offensive coordinator in Jake Peetz.
Peetz previously coached with the Carolina Panthers, Alabama, the Oakland Raiders, Washington Football Team (Formerly the Redskins), and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The quarterback will likely be Miles Brennan after his main competitor, TJ Finley, transferred to Auburn. Brennan threw for 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns before being injured. Finley and sophomore quarterback Max Johnson filled in, with Johnson throwing for about 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. He was the quarterback to lead the Tigers to their capstone wins over Florida and Ole Miss to finish off the season on a high note.
The receiving corps took a hit as Terrace Marshall, the team’s previous leading pass catcher, is not returning. Their leader in yards was Kayshon Boutte, who had 735 yards and five touchdowns in 2020.
It will be important for him and his fellow receivers to continue the success LSU’s passing game has seen in the past as their running game looks to recoup after a grim 2020.
Leading rushers Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery both return, but the team only combined for 1,217 yards rushing. For LSU to have success in 2021 that needs to change.
LSU’s defense was arguably one of the worst defenses in college football last season. The Tigers finished No. 124 in total defense and were dead last in pass yards per game, allowing 323 yards per contest.
Ed Orgeron answered by hiring Daronte Jones, a former Minnesota Vikings assistant coach, to rectify the issue.
LSU also returns Derek Stingley Jr., a lockdown corner who doesn’t flash many stats but his tape shows a naturally athletic corner who doesn’t allow many passes to be completed in his direction.
The defensive line did a great job of sacking the quarterback but allowed teams to run all over them. However, LSU will return plenty of talent along the front seven with their leading tackler-for-loss, leading pass rusher, and primary defensive tackle returning.
The linebackers will gain Mike Jones, who is transferring in from Clemson, and Navonteque Strong from the JUCO ranks. Both should be instant contributors to the linebacking corps.
The key player on offense will be tackle Austin Deculus. The senior tackle will be leading the charge for an offensive line that needs to do much better at both protecting the quarterback but more importantly reviving a dead run game.
On defense it will be Stingley Jr. The sophomore corner will be the crux of the Tigers’ defense and will create problems for the already inexperienced receiving core from Auburn.
LSU should be a tough matchup for Auburn as SEC play begins. Auburn has not beaten LSU in Death Valley since 1999.
With LSU’s expected strengths to be in areas of Auburn’s weakness, namely the passing offense and a good pass defense, expect it to be a tight matchup where Auburn will have to work hard to come out with a win to secure their first SEC win.