If this 2019 trend continues, the LSU Tigers charter bus will be receiving a handicap sticker in the very near future.
The Tigers aren’t crippled yet, but the injured list is getting about as long as a 7-year-old’s Christmas list. Terrace Marshall and Michael Divinity (again) are the latest additions. Ed Orgeron can call on the injured players like Santa calls his reindeer — “On (Rashard) Lawrence, on (Glen) Logan, on (K’Lavon) Chaisson, on (Todd) Harris...”
And pardon the Christmas puns, but it’s apropos given LSU fans’ child-like excitement for a revolutionary LSU team. The thing about LSU’s injuries, though, is it serves as the ultimate “what if” for the 2019 season.
Yeah, LSU’s offense has scored more points in its first four games than any other offense in SEC history (231), but “what if” this team can’t stay healthy enough to actually win the SEC Championship?
Yeah, LSU tied a school record for most points in a quarter (28) and quarterback Joe Burrow threw a school record 357 first-half yards and another school record six touchdowns against Vanderbilt, but Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa threw more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four) against Southern Miss. And Alabama’s the ultimate standard right?
While there’s plenty to feel good about if you’re an LSU fan — and trust me, I’m not trying to rain on any parades — the injuries and defensive struggles have been the one universal complaint amongst Tiger fans.
Most of the injuries have occurred on the defensive side of the football, which provides another “what if.” After LSU gave up 38 points to Vanderbilt (seven of those points came via pick six), the Tigers have allowed 320 yards per game (seventh in the SEC) and 23.3 points per game (ninth in the conference) this season.
This peaks my curiosity for several reasons, but it asks two pertinent questions regarding the Tigers 2019 season. Will the defense get better when LSU gets healthier? Or is this LSU defense simply not as good as we thought?
The answer could be “yes” to both. You have to expect some improvement when Chaisson, Lawrence and Logan come back, and maybe just maybe, LSU gets that pass rush it’s been lacking.
But their presence alone isn’t going to stabilize a unit that has missed far too many tackles and assignments this season.
You hate to say this, but at times, this unit looks poorly coached. And don’t for one minute think there’s doubt creeping in my mind about defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. This is an adjustment period for Aranda. At LSU or even at Wisconsin prior, he never had an explosive offense that could score two touchdowns in less than two minutes to open a game. LSU put 28 points on the board in the first quarter by using just 15 plays.
As far as offenses are concerned that’s both lethal and sudden. But so far it’s proving somewhat lethal for an ailing LSU defense.
A third into the season we’ve learned that this LSU offense is not only worthy of the offseason hype but it’s also one of the best offenses we’ve ever seen.
We’ve also learned that LSU’s defense is beginning to take on water.
A bye week followed by a game against Utah State could be the life preserver needed to fulfill Tiger fans’ championship needs.