What LSU Has to Challenge the SEC West

The LSU Tigers accomplished a feat that two nationally first ranked teams were unable to accomplish last season. They walked into Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama, and beat Auburn at home.

I’m not kidding when I say that two nationally first ranked teams failed to do this last season. Georgia was ranked number one in the country and were undefeated when they waltzed into Auburn last season. Auburn torched them, 40-17. Then Alabama came two weeks later, ranked first as well. Auburn took them down, 26-14.

The point is, what LSU accomplished this season by going into Jordan Hare Stadium and beating Auburn is more then impressive. Now, LSU has two impressive wins on the resume in just three games, counting the 33-17 dismantling of the Miami Hurricanes, and sits as the sixth best team in the nation, according to the AP Poll.

LSU now looks to challenge the rest of the SEC West, a loaded division in the best conference in college football. Here’s what they have to make such a challenge.

What LSU Has to Challenge the SEC West

The quarterback situation figured out

Joe Burrow transferred in August over to LSU from Ohio State after loosing the quarterback battle to Dwayne Haskins, who now looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Burrow himself isn’t a bad option either. He’s a coaches son, who strives to know and understand the game.

It’s feels like it has been a very long time since the Tigers had their quarterback situation figured out. The last time I remember a stable quarterback in LSU was when Zach Mettenberger took the team on it’s 20-6 run between 2012 and 2013. That’s four years of inconsistent quarterback play since then.

LSU tried to trod though it with great running backs. Leonard Fournette was possibly the closest we had seen to Bo Jackson since the real thing. Derrius Guice was his own type of a beast. The problem is that in the SEC, especially the SEC West, you can’t be one dimensional on offense.

Joe Burrow finally brings that stability to the LSU offense. He is nothing more then a good game manager, but that’s exactly what LSU has needed for years. He is smart with the football, an intelligent character who can make good, quick decisions and make good throws.

A top caliber defense

This defense already has some crazy statistics. Against ranked opponents, LSU is allowing 19 points per game. In those two games (between Auburn and Miami), they have intercepted 4 passes and recorded 12 tackles for loss. That’s incredibly, insanely good.

They have play makers all across the team. Linebacker Devin White is expected to be a 1st round pick next year in the NFL Draft. He’s already collected 27 tackles, 2 of those for loss. Cornerback Greedy Williams is expected to be a first round pick as well. He’s intercepted 8 passes in his last 15 games, including 2 this season.

The secondary has been a ball-hawking squad so far, disrupting 12 passes on their own. The linebackers are collecting tackles and making huge plays everywhere. The defensive line is disrupting plays, already getting themselves 8.5 tackles for loss.

Let’s face the fact. This is a top level SEC caliber defense.

Don’t forget the kicker!

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Oh yeah, here’s the kicker (pun intended). Cole Tracy is a senior graduate transfer from Assumption College. He had never played in front of more then 1,000 people in his career at a time. Now he plays in front of 102,321 people every home game. He has stepped up to the challenge. Tracy has knocked down 8 of his 9 attempts so far this year, and has scored 32 points with his leg.

LSU has lost many games over the past few years because of incompetent kickers. This year, that won’t be happening. Tracy has been nothing but reliable. He knocked through a 54 yard kick in his first game at the FBS level.

What could go wrong?

The receivers are young and inexperienced. So far, Joe Burrow has been a good quarterback, but his stat line has been hurt by several nasty drops. The Tigers receivers have plenty of talent, the concern is whether the lack of experience will come up in a crucial moment.

Burrow really hasn’t seen time on the field outside of what he has done at LSU. He threw for 287 yards in 10 appearances during his time in mop up duty with the Buckeyes. He has yet to experience the weekly grind of the SEC. I do not doubt that he is capable of handling it, he has done nothing but prove how tough he is. However, the SEC grind is unlike any other. LSU gets to play a C-USA team this week, but after they will play Ole Miss, on the road at Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State (who will be coming off of a bye week) before LSU goes into their week off. We will have to see how Burrow holds up in this grind.

The Last Word

LSU has always struggled to win the big games. They’ve always suffered from an unusually difficult schedule, playing ranked teams sometimes five or six times during a regular season. It looks like Coach Orgeron has his team motivated more then ever, and the staff has been put together to make sure the play-calling goes the way it should be. He’s now 6-3 against ranked opponents in the regular season during his tenure at LSU.

LSU has a team to challenge the rest of the SEC West, let’s see how consistent they can stay down the stretch.

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