5 questions LSU must answer during its season-opening nonconference games

Who will step up and be closer?

Chris Cotton and his school record-tying 16 saves are gone. Several candidates have emerged as his replacement, but the role likely won’t be solidified for another month. It’s a key position. Coach Paul Mainieri says a closer is as important as LSU’s Nos. 2 and 3 weekend starters.

How will freshman Jared Poché handle a starting role?

A true freshman from Lutcher, Poché is being thrust into a weekend starting spot for the first two weeks. He’ll start Sunday against Grambling and, likely, the next Sunday against Texas Southern. Poché, junior Cody Glenn and junior college transfer Kyle Bouman are competing for the two weekend spots behind ace Aaron Nola.

Who replaces the bats of Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes?

Those two big hitters accounted for a third of LSU’s RBIs last season and two-fifths of the home runs. Replacing their numbers is nearly impossible, but someone has to protect No. 3 hitter Alex Bregman. The candidates include Jared Foster, Christian Ibarra, Tyler Moore and Chris Chinea.

Who’s behind the plate?

LSU has had the luxury of using just two catchers over the past six seasons — Micah Gibbs and Ty Ross. This year, they might use three. Moore, Chinea and Kade Scivicque are in a three-way battle for the spot. All of them might see time behind the plate this season.

Who plays the right side of the infield?

Gone are Katz from first and JaCoby Jones from second. The pair combined for a .985 fielding percentage, making 12 errors in 68 games. Junior college transfer Conner Hale is expected to take over at second, but his range isn’t what Jones’ was. A combination of Moore and Chinea will hold down first.