After an off-season full of bizarre coaching swaps, high-profile transfers, and the beginning disintegration of entire conferences, you can’t help but sense we are hurdling at a violent pace towards the start of a highly intriguing college football season. With wild changes to the very fabric of the game itself, 2021/2022 stands as one of the wildest off-season cycles in memory.
Perhaps the most bizarre of all, long-time Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly left the Midwestern cold to head down south and tackle the LSU job in Baton Rouge. This leads us to the LSU 2022 Season Preview as well as a new era in Baton Rouge.
LSU 2022 Season Preview
The Kelly Era Begins
Having never won a National Championship, Kelly arrived in LSU country with one mission in mind, bring the National Championship back to Louisiana State University. Only three years removed from their last title, Kelly believes the Tigers have the resources, fanbase, and state-wide talent to accomplish his ultimate goal. In order to build his vision, he first had to repair the fractured culture and roster left behind by former Head Coach Ed Orgeron. Before Kelly could succeed in changing LSU’s culture he had to make sure LSU’s roster possessed enough quality players to remain competitive.
Building a Team
Kelly and his staff signed 16 transfers via the portal, headlined by possible starting QB Jayden Daniels. They inked seven defensive backs and managed to keep a handful of much-needed veterans.
Kelly went to great lengths retaining transfer portal-bound quarterback Myles Brennan and star receiver Kayshon Boutte, both with one foot out the door last winter. While simultaneously, building a cohesive staff. A staff that achieved recruiting success with several four and five-star signees.
Now here we are, deep into fall camp and the Kelly vision is beginning to align. While it’s fantastic building an elite coaching staff. LSU has found out the hard way, you may as well shut up shop without a solid quarterback. Accordingly, LSU’s high-profile quarterback race rages on.
& Jayden Daniels
are both strong options, each signifying the two most talented LSU quarterbacks since the Joe Burrow
era. Daniels has showcased his multi-faceted talents throughout fall camp and is now the favorite. He has developed strong chemistry alongside LSU’s receiving corps & running backs over the past months.
Backed by freshmen five-star Walker Howard, LSU’s quarterback room is a definite strength in the present and future.
Unranked and Underrated?
Regardless, 2022 LSU remains a talented SEC West squad, boasting a number of likely future NFL Draft picks. Possessing a loaded defensive front and wide receiver unit, the Tigers carry enough pure talent to stay competitive in every game. Approaching a season under the microscope the Tigers will garner much of the college football world’s attention or curiosity. For as much as LSU struggled mightily over their past two seasons, the college football blue blood teams still lust for 2019 revenge.
Finishing under .500 for the first time since Y2K was still an ominous end of days acronym, LSU enter 2022’s campaign unranked, but could that also mean underrated?
Rebuilt and Ready To Rumble
Simply put, no one quite knows what to expect from Kelly’s first season. He is sporting a squad almost completely rebuilt via the transfer portal. This lack of familiarity or outside knowledge could play to LSU’s advantage. Organizing a roster made up of returning veterans, young elite prospects, and a variety of transfers, Kelly built this team from the ground up, not out of choice but a necessity.
Opening with three non-conference games out of their first four opponents, all winnable outings (FSU, Southern, and New Mexico State), Kelly’s staff will likely use 90% of their roster in order to find out which Tigers will lead this team through the meat of the SEC gauntlet. Will this fall usher in a new era of consistency and annual championship contention for LSU football, or could this season become more of a proving/testing ground for how Kelly’s program will be run over the next 5-10 years?
LSU’s most obvious position still to be decided is quarterback. Understanding the identity of LSU’s quarterback won’t solve this team’s every issue, although finding their next signal-caller should help from a psychological point of view. When looking for the identity of 2022 LSU’s definitive playmakers, we start with Cortez Hankton
‘s wide receiving corps. Kayshon Boutte
is a Biletnikoff candidate. He holds the effortless brilliance only the most talented football players can claim. Much like Boutte’s ability to eat up ground after the catch, Jack Bech
, Malik Nabers
, Kyren Lacy,
and Jaray Jenkins
are all capable of big plays over the middle, through traffic, and against tight coverage. However, the Tigers’ offense is aiming for a more balanced attack, leaning on production from Frank Wilson
‘s running backs on the ground and through the air.
On defense, first-year coordinator Matt House
will lean heavily on a rotating, attack-minded front seven led by BJ Ojulari
, Ali Gaye
, Maason Smith
, Jaquelin Roy,
and All-SEC freshman transfer Mekhi Wingo
. Meanwhile, DBU coaching tandem Robert Steeples
and Kerry Cooks
will focus on maximizing secondary standouts Major Burns
, Jarrick Bernard-Converse
, and Mekhi Garner
, just to name a few. Another major story surrounding this LSU defense is their 2022 freshmen. Left tackle Will Campbell
, cornerbacks Laterrance Welch
and Jordan Allen,
also five-star linebacker Harold Perkins.
The defense is loaded with talent. Let’s hope that talent plays out on the field against a tough SEC schedule.
Time Will Tell
As we finish this LSU 2022 Season Preview. In the end, it comes down to LSU’s younger squad or title-winning veterans. They cannot do it all themselves. Kelly and his staff must conjure the season of their careers if this team will contend for the SEC West, let alone a championship. Already 10 months into ‘The Brian Kelly Project’ and half of that time has been spent cleaning up messes from the previous regime. As the battles within the transfer portal and the recruiting trail continued at a dizzying pace, staff fatigue could play a very real factor later in 2022. Can Kelly’s debut staff make in-game adjustments to turn adversity into victory?
Can this new LSU staff reinvigorate the roster with the energy, intensity, and football IQ needed to contend? We shall see the answers to those questions in less than a fortnight.