Reading between the preseason lines with LSU, Orgeron
Ed Orgeron has built a reputation as a nice, likeable guy. He is a congenial person, talkative and always available. Orgeron has never struck you as someone who desires to hide from anyone or hide anything from anyone.
That is why the decision to completely close practice to everyone was a bit perplexing.
In retrospect, the common thought process was to conceal the nuances of the new offense of Matt Canada and that has credence.
What also makes sense is to avoid the distractions of media focusing on player dismissals or players leaving the program at a concerning rate, particularly on the offensive line. It is not out of the question that we may hear about another player of concern soon, though that is not certain.
While every program has attrition and while every program misses on recruits, the numbers leaving the LSU program recently are a bit alarming.
Since 2015, the list includes Willie Allen, George Brown, John Diarse, Andy Dodd, Jevonte Domond, Ronnie Feist, Trent Domingue, Anthony Jennings, Tyron Johnson, Chidi Okeke, Trey Quinn, Saivion Smith, Kevin Spears, Seth Stewart, Maea Teuhema, Sione Teuhema,Tony Upchurch and Isaiah Washington.
The biggest impact has obviously been along the offensive line and at wide receiver.
The reasons are plentiful.
1) It appears that the current regime is much stricter, with regard to rules violations, academic violations and program violations.
2) Despite highly ranked recruiting classes, it appears that Les Miles and his staff simply missed on some players who were not good enough to play in the SEC. Then, there is the issue of player development as well.
3) It appears that the coaching change, scheme changes and philosophical differences have also contributed to the losses.
With regard to young players who can possibly make an impact this year, here are some whose names keep coming up.
Linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson could be the bookend edge rusher to Arden Key or the guy to plug in for Key until he gets totally healthy. He is drawing rave reviews from Orgeron and it is no surprise, given his reputation entering LSU.
Defensive back Grant Delpit of IMG Academy has been impressive and what is not to like? He played at an elite program on the high school level and he has great size and athleticism.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has looked outstanding at running back, based on published reports and on comments from observers with whom I have spoken. More quick that fast, he has good speed as well. Edwards-Helaire is low to the ground, sneaky elusive and tough to tackle.
Wide receiver Racey McMath of Karr could find his way on the field this season. McMath is big, strong and has some explosion for his size. He played a high level program and is not awed or intimidated by the level of SEC players at LSU.
There was never any doubt in my mind that Danny Etling would be LSU’s starting quarterback, if healthy.
The big question is who would be second and who is the future development choice among the rest?
Based on early returns and based on comments from Orgeron, that may be Myles Brennan, who was a later arrival from St. Stanislaus. Lowell Narcisse enrolled at the semester break last school year, Lindsay Scott remains, as does Justin McMillan.
While McMillan might be called upon in a game if anything happens to Etling, Brennan could be the guy, ahead of Scott and Narcisse, for the future. He reported to call practice 20 pounds heavier than he was in high school. He has sneaky mobility and can make most, if not all throws well.
Former five-star recruit JaCoby Stevens is apparently making the adjustment to wide receiver from defensive back a fairly seamless one. A good athlete, Stevens drew praise from Orgeron after Saturday’s scrimmage. Considering the concern about depth at the receiver spot, that is good news.
There is little doubt that Canada’s offense will have a ton of deception and will be much more unpredictable than that of Cam Cameron (and Les Miles). There is little doubt that Dave Aranda is an excellent defensive coordinator.
The question remains whether both have enough good to very good players to get the job done. We will soon find out. Until then, we must continue to read between the lines–the lines provided daily on practices and scrimmages by Orgeron and his program.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…