2014 LSU Preview: What You Need To Know
LSU S Jalen Mills
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About LSU (Getty Images)
2014 LSU Preview
What You Need To Know...
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer
What You Need To Know About The Offense:
Who loses an NFL-caliber quarterback, two pro receivers, and a likely NFL starting running back and comes out just fine? Cam Cameron came in and was the perfect coordinator for Zack Mettenberger and the passing game. Now it'll be his job to work with two dual-threat talents in Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, who have the talent and upside to do big things, but still have to get through youthful mistakes. Neither one is Mettenberger throwing the ball, and not having Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry around anymore hurts, but there's a load of talented young receivers ready to rise up. As always, there are fantastic backs waiting their turn and ready to go, making the loss of Jeremy Hill no big deal, but all eyes will be on super-recruit Leonard Fournette, who's expected to shine right out of the gate. While there might question marks at key spots, the loaded offensive line should make the transition easy.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: The defense didn't exactly struggle – it's hard to criticize a D that finished 15th in the nation – but it wasn't quite the killer is was in past years. The pass rush wasn't as strong, and the defense wasn't as disruptive – but it's all relative. Expect more plays in the backfield with ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter looking ready to explode, and the secondary might turn out to be the best in America with a dizzying array of pro talent to work with. The linebacking corps will be fine, but it'll be the relative weak spot. The stats and tackles will be there, but the unit needs to come up with more impact plays.
Players You Need To Know
1. OT La'el Collins, Sr.
The offensive line has the potential to be among the SEC's best, and the star of the front five is the 6-5, 315-pound all-star who came to LSU as a superstar among superstar prospects and hasn't disappointed. Starting out as a guard, he's versatile enough to play just about anywhere on the line, but he's at his best at left tackle where he blasts away for the running game and has good enough athleticism to handle himself as a pass protector. His NFL future is at right tackle or guard, but this year, he'll be the leader of the Tiger line.
2. CB Tre'Davious White, Soph.
A big-time recruit and considered by many to be the nation's top corner prospect, he didn't disappoint making 55 tackles with two picks and a team-leading seven broken up passes as a true freshman. He's not huge at 5-11 and 177 pounds, but he's a tough, physical hitter who isn't afraid to get nasty when needed. Outstanding as an open field tackler, especially for his size and age, he'll be more dangerous as a pure cover-corner who'll do more to handle most No. 1 receivers. There's still work to do before he turns into Thorpe material, but it's coming – he just needs a little more time logged in and a bit more consistency. When tested, he'll come through.
3. DE Jermauria Rasco, Sr.
It's salary drive time. He's an okay pro prospect, but he needs to have a huge senior year to move up into top 100 category – he just might do that. At 6-3 and 262 pounds he has good bulk, shocking speed for his size, and now he has the experience. He was a good part of the rotation early on in his career before taking over a starting job last season making 56 tackles with four sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. A top-shelf, five-star prospect, he hasn't quite blossomed into a superstar, but the ability and the tools are there to do far more.
4. RB Leonard Fournette, Fr.
The No. 1 recruit in the nation, LSU was able to keep him home, and it might not be too long before he becomes the star of the ground game. There are other backs who waited their turn in the LSU backfield, but Fournette is too good to keep off the field. All the NFL tools are there right out of high school with 6-1, 224-pound size, power, and speed to hit the home run when he gets into the open. Always going forward and always getting positive yards, he's both a downhill runner and a slasher – he can do it all. He might not have elite quickness or feet, but he makes up for it with good vision and cutback ability.
5. WR Travin Dural, So.
He wasn't able to get too much work with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham taking up all the catches, but he was the team's third-leading wide receiver in yards – that only meant 145 yards on seven catches. However, he came up with two difference-making touchdowns, scoring against Alabama and on a game-winner from 49 yards out to save the day against Arkansas. Potentially a better NFL prospect than the targets he's replacing, he's faster with warp wheels with a 6-2, 192-pound frame. His career was slowed a bit a few years ago by a knee injury, but he's a No. 1 receiver now who'll work at the outside X.
6. S Jalen Mills, Jr.
Unlike most superstar defensive backs the program gets, Mills wasn't an elite recruit – he was considered a promising corner, but hardly a sure thing. That changed right away once he got off the bus. Is he a corner or a safety? It doesn't matter – he'll be one of the SEC's best defensive backs no matter where he plays. With 6-1, 189-pound size, he's a big corner, but with his speed and athleticism he's a dangerous safety who's perfect at free safety. He started out his career at corner making 57 tackles with two picks, and last year he did even more coming up with 67 stops with three sacks while tying for the team lead with three picks.
7. OG Vadal Alexander, Jr.
La'el Collins might be the best blocker on the line, but the 6-6, 342-pound Alexander might not be far behind. Just agile enough to work at right tackle, with his bulk and strength he's a massive hitter on the inside. Likely a late second-to-early-third round pick if he comes out early next year, he has rare size and the versatility NFL teams love. He might not be for every pro offense, but he's a road grader who'll put together a highlight reel of dominant blocks.
8. DE Danielle Hunter, Jr.
An emerging pass rusher, he has a great 6-6, 241-pound frame and a great burst off the line. Solid last season, he got better as the year went on making 57 tackles with three sacks and eight tackles for loss, and this offseason he looked like he's ready to blow up. He has the prototype body and look for a hybrid pass rusher, and with a nice motor and good toughness against the run, he should be an all-star if everything goes according to plan.
9. DT Christian LaCouture, Soph
He got to LSU early on and he showed the maturity and strength right away to be a part of the fun. The Lincoln, Nebraska native got away from the Huskers and showed terrific promise making 11 tackles with a sack in his limited time. While he might not be a typical elite of the elite LSU recruits, his upside is enormous with great quickness off the ball and the burst to turn into a whale of a starting 4-3 tackle.
10. WR Malachi Dupre, Fr.
Leonard Fournette was the star of the 2014 recruiting class, and others at different positions might be a bit more celebrated, but very, very soon, Dupre could turn into the best get. The New Orleans native was at or near the top of everyone's list of top receiver recruits with 6-3, 188-pound size and terrific quickness. The sky's the limit, and while he'll likely make an impact right out of the box, he projects to be a go-to NFL target once he adds about ten pounds of good weight to his frame to go along with his tremendous athleticism. Smooth as glass, he looks the part, but he's also not afraid of providing a bit of a pop.
- 2014 LSU Preview