TOP RETURNEES: Zach Mettenberger, Stephen Rivers, Jerrard Randall
KEY LOSSES: Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee
TOP NEWCOMERS: None
PROJECTED STARTER: Mettenberger
SPOTLIGHT IS ON: Mettenberger
OUTLOOK: This season, there is no quarterback controversy, competition or complications. Zach Mettenberger is the guy, and the Tigers have even tweaked their offense to better accommodate his strong arm. LSU will throw more than it did last season and a higher percentage of those throws will go deep down the field. Mettenberger won’t run by design the way Jefferson often did, because he’s a pure pocket passer. There is no playing experience behind Mettenberger as Rivers, who has added 30 pounds to his 6-foot-7 frame since arriving at LSU, and Randall redshirted as freshmen last season.
TOP RETURNEES: Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue, Terrence Magee, J.C. Copeland, Connor Neighbors
KEY LOSS: James Stampley
TOP NEWCOMER: Jeremy Hill
PROJECTED STARTERS: Ware, Copeland
SPOTLIGHT IS ON: Hilliard
OUTLOOK: This is arguably the deepest, most competitive position on the team for the second consecutive season. The four halfbacks who combined for 2,438 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns a year ago — Ford, Ware, Blue and Hilliard — all return. Magee showed a lot of talent in preseason camp last year, but couldn’t get on the field much as a true freshmen because of the aforementioned quartet. True freshman Jeremy Hill appears to have the talent to compete right away, but he could get stuck in the logjam too. Coach Les Miles likes going with the hot runner whether it’s the power of Ware or Hilliard, the speed of Ford or the combination of skills belonging to Blue. Copeland, a converted defensive tackle, has lost weight as he replaces Stampley at fullback, a position that is used almost exclusively for blocking. He’ll be backed up by Neighbors.
TOP RETURNEES: Chase Clement, Nic Jacobs, Travis Dickson, Tyler Edwards
KEY LOSSES: Deangelo Peterson, Mitch Joseph
TOP NEWCOMERS: Dillon Gordon
PROJECTED STARTER: Clement
SPOTLIGHT IS ON: Clement
OUTLOOK: The tight ends, like the fullbacks, tend to remain relatively anonymous as they are used more for blocking than catching or carrying the ball. Clement has excelled as a blocker, but has shown glimpses of being able to be a threat as a receiver as well. Jacobs enters camp as his primary backup, but Dickson and Edwards figure to see action as well because LSU likely will utilize four tight ends.
TOP RETURNEES: Odell Beckham Jr., Russell Shepard, James Wright, Kadron Boone, Jarvis Landry
KEY LOSS: Rueben Randle
TOP NEWCOMERS: Travin Dural,
Kavahra Holmes, Avery Johnson
SPOTLIGHT IS ON:
OUTLOOK: LSU expects Beckham, who was the second-leading receiver as a true freshman last season, to have a standout sophomore season. Miles selected him as one of
the three players to represent the Tigers at SEC Media Days. This is Shepard’s last chance to shrink the large gap between the expectations when he arrived as the nation’s top recruit and his limited productivity the past three seasons. Landry backs up Beckham, and Wright and Boone have been used primarily as blockers for the last two seasons. All should benefit from Mettenberger’s passing ability.
TOP RETURNEES: Chris Faulk, La’el Collins, P.J. Lonergan, Josh Williford, Alex Hurst, Josh Dworaczyk, Elliott Porter, Trai Turner, Jonah Austin, Chris Davenport
KEY LOSSES: Will Blackwell, T-Bob Hebert, Greg Shaw
TOP NEWCOMERS: Vadal Alexander, Jerald Hawkins, Derek Edinburgh
PROJECTED STARTERS: Faulk, Collins, Lonergan, Williford, Hurst
SPOTLIGHT IS ON: Collins
OUTLOOK: The line figures to be be one of the deepest and most reliable units on the team as it was a year ago when LSU tied a school record with 35 rushing touchdowns. Faulk and Hurst give the Tigers strong anchors at the tackle spots, and Lonergan provides experience and stability at center. Collins, a highly recruited tackle last season who made the switch to guard, could enter the starting lineup on the left side. Williford returns at right guard after emerging as a starter last season. Dworaczyk is the wild card. He was one of the most experienced and reliable linemen on the team before suffering a season-ending knee injury in preseason camp last year. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. He could be a starter or provide quality depth across the interior of the line. Davenport, Turner and Porter are the top reserves.