Don’t Count The 2016 LSU Tigers Out Just Yet

The moment the officials returned to the playing field and waived off Danny Etling’s game-winning touchdown pass in last week’s game against Auburn, LSU’s chance at any meaningful postseason play came crashing down. With two losses on the record only four games into the season, the 2016 season is essentially “over” for an LSU Tigers program that expects to contend for championships.

Throw in the fact that the Tigers also fired their head coach in the middle of the season, and you have a lot of fans and media members already looking towards next season. The thought is justified, as usually when a team fires a coach, they are signifying that the current season cannot be salvaged and it’s time to look towards the next era.

The thing is, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this team. The firing of Les Miles does not signify a totally lost year, and I think we still have quite a few reasons to invest our time and emotion into this team down the stretch.

Through all of the drama that has taken place with the quarterbacks, the coaching staff, and the losses, we seem to have forgotten just how talented this LSU team is. Heading into the year, the Tigers were a top-five team in every poll and were considered to one of college football’s top all-around teams.

With the best running back in the sport and a dynamic playmaker in Leonard Fournette, talented receivers, a solid offensive line, and one of the top defenses in the game, the 2016 LSU Tigers have all the making of a championship team. The only thing this group lacks is a quarterback and solid offensive coaching.

With the termination of both Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, one of those two major issues has a chance to be resolved.

Interim coach Ed Orgeron came out at the beginning of this week in his introductory press conference and basically told us that everything about the way the team has been run is going to change. From the amount of time spent on the practice field to the entire offensive philosophy, things are going to be different for the final eight games of the year.

I’ll be honest, when LSU fell to Auburn and Miles was fired, I thought it was a lost year. But after doing some thinking, I’m convinced that this team could turn it around and show what many expected from them going into the season.

The biggest issue in 2016 has been the complete lack of creativity on offense. The Tigers have talent, but Miles and Cameron were so predictable that opposing defenses had almost no trouble slowing them down. With both of those guys gone, the team has said that they are going to spread it out more and mix up the play calling, and while it’s a simple concept, it could make all the difference in the world.

Opening up the field and adding a variety of new calls will keep defenses guessing, rather than the consistent lack of variety and innovation that we have seen for years. We could see a far more productive Leonard Fournette as a result, and the ball may finally find its way into the hands of LSU’s talented wideouts.

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Another thing to consider is the motivation that comes with a mid-season coaching change. Whether it’s feeling like they have failed, trying to keep their spot with the new coach, or any other reason, players always seem to get a big  jumpstart when a sudden change of that magnitude is made. You factor that in with the reputation that Orgeron has for being an extremely intense guy, and we could have one motivated football team on our hands.

The Tigers have two losses and it will take help from other teams for them to have even the slightest of chances to get back into the thick of things for a conference title. But I think the potential is definitely there for the team to play good ball and maybe put themselves in a position to get to Atlanta. LSU has one of the most talented rosters in the country, and a change in philosophy and some added motivation may be all it takes to get the most out of this team. Don’t write the Tigers off just yet.

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