BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU is a defensive powerhouse every season but will make an effort to reach the College Football Playoff by remaking the offense in 2019. Quarterback Joe Burrow and company will unveil a spread offense when the sixth-ranked Tigers host Georgia Southern in the season opener on Saturday.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: LSU -27.5.
LSU finished 69th out of 130 FBS teams in yards per game at an average of 402.1 last season and brought in Joe Brady as the passing game coordinator to work with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and churn out more explosive plays. "We're going to be getting the ball out of our hands fast," Burrow told The Advocate. "Then, when the defense sucks up, we're going to take shots over the top. That's going to open up the run game. So, I think we're a multi-dimensional offense." That multi-dimensional offense will rely on a deep wide receiving corps that spent camp working on timing routes with Burrow. The Eagles ranked 129th in FBS at an average of 79 passing yards last season and are not shy about their intention to run an option offense that led them to 10 wins and a Sun Belt Conference title.
ABOUT GEORGIA SOUTHERN (2018: 10-3)
The Eagles lost leading rusher and receiver Wesley Fields but return quarterback Shai Werts, who passed for 987 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception last season. Werts is also the leading returning rusher after scampering for 908 yards and a team-high 15 TDs, including a pair of rushing scores in the 23-21 Camellia Bowl victory over Eastern Michigan. Werts will get some help in the backfield from running back J.D. King, who transferred from Oklahoma State in January and was granted eligibility by the NCAA earlier this month.
ABOUT LSU (2018: 10-3)
While Burrow and the offense are counting on more explosive plays, the defense is looking for similar production with a talented group that includes a pair of preseason All-American defensive backs in cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Grant Delpit. "Last year, we had a very talented team," Delpit told reporters. "This year, I think we have a better secondary. The defensive line all came back. I think we have a lot of talent this year, especially on offense." Delpit could end up a top five pick in next spring's NFL draft and was given the No. 7 by the team for this season - a number previously worn by star Tigers' defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
1. LSU returns leading receiver Justin Jefferson (54 catches, 875 yards, six TDs).
2. The Eagles went 1-1 against Top 25 teams last season, falling to eventual national champion Clemson and knocking off Appalachian State.
3. Burrow was named to the Manning Award watch list as one of the top 30 quarterbacks in the nation.
PREDICTION: LSU 35, Georgia Southern 17