The 2016 season for LSU brought along a lot of heartache, as well as hope and a mindset of improvement being on the way. The Tigers began the season in a way that they would want to leave far behind and never look at again. A stunning loss in the opening game of the season followed by a 2-2 start saw the departure of long-tenured head coach Les Miles. After Miles was fired and the replacement, Ed Orgeron was brought in, the Tigers had a glimpse of hope and integrity on their side.
Orgeron led the Tigers to a 5-2 record to close out the season, eventually earning him the full-time head coaching gig with the Tigers. LSU saw coaches come and go throughout the season, as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was let go with Miles. Many of the players took the loss of Coach Miles to heart, but steadily reminded themselves that they still had a lot to play for. Changes were made through the season not only with coaches, but with player positions as well.
Brandon Harris started the season at quarterback for LSU, but was suddenly benched in place of Danny Etling. A poor performance against Wisconsin in the opener cost Harris his starting role, and he didn’t see much playing time from that point forward. Etling had the team going in the right direction throughout his time as the starter. Star running back Leonard Fournette was injured most of the season, which made room for Derrius Guice, the backup running back, to carry the load for the team. Guice had a phenomenal year for LSU as he broke Fournette’s single-game rushing record.
Game by Game Breakdown:
- Wisconsin: The Tigers struggled the entire game. The defense of the Badgers was too much for the LSU offense to handle. Wisconsin won the game 16-14 in a stunning upset of the then ranked #5 Tigers.
- Jacksonville State: LSU was heavily favored going into this matchup. The Gamecocks came in searching for the upset, but the Tigers won 34-13. The offense was stellar throughout this matchup.
- Mississippi State: The first of eight conference matchups for LSU was a fight to the finish. The Tigers held the lead for most of the game, but the Bulldogs made it close and lost 23-20.
- Auburn: A matchup of the Tigers. The LSU offense was sluggish all game, and only managed to get 12 points from one touchdown and two field goals. As for Auburn, they scored 18 points on all field goals. Both offenses were sluggish though the defenses were slightly better.
- Missouri: This was the first game for Coach Orgeron. He led the team to a 42-7 win over the hurting Missouri Tigers. LSU set the school record for most yards against an SEC opponent in this matchup with 647 total yards.
- Southern Miss: The Tigers knew they had a win in this matchup before they came out of the locker room. The Golden Eagles were horrible in this game and LSU took advantage of them the entire game. The Tigers won 45-10.
- Ole Miss: The annual rivalry game is always exciting to see. This time around, LSU went home with a 38-21 win. The defense was all over Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly in the second half, which gave the Tigers offense room to work with.
- Alabama: Ahh, the matchup everyone loves to see every season. Coming into this game, every analyst picked Alabama to win heavily. That wasn’t the case, as it was only a 10-0 win for the Tide. Both defenses were outstanding and the only scores were a field goal by Bama and a touchdown run by Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts.
- Arkansas: The Razorbacks had momentum coming into the game. LSU’s defense just proved to be too strong for the Hos offense in this matchup. The Tigers won heavily, 38-10.
- Florida: The game was played in Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew striking Florida in October. The Gators were primed and ready for a win, and they went home with a win and a trip to the SEC Championship. Derrius Guice was stopped at the 1-yard line on 4th and goal and Florida won 16-10.
- Texas A&M: The Aggies had quarterback Trevor Knight back for this matchup. He was still dealing with an injury and wasn’t all that effective. LSU handled the Aggies 54-39.
Finishing 7-4 was a good season for LSU. Overall, the Tigers overcame adversity and made the best of what they had. Next up is the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve against Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.