A road trip to Death Valley awaits Rice Football at the tail end of the 2018 season. How will the Owls stack up against the LSU Tigers in 2018?
The toughest test for Rice Football in 2018 will come on Nov. 17 when the Owls travel to Death Valley to take on the LSU Tigers. The SEC heavyweight has been in a state of flux since the firing on long-time head coach Les Miles and the start of the Ed Orgeron era.
After taking over as the interim coach midway through 2016, Oregon’s first full season came in 2017 and it was a bumpy ride. The Tigers started out 2-2 losing at home to eventual Sun Belt champions, Troy. The pressure on Coach O continued to mount, but a 7-1 end to the regular season quelled those calling for his job, at least for the time being.
The Tigers will be talented in 2018 thanks to an ever-abundant pool of talent in the south. Their success (or lack thereof) will depend entirely on their level of coaching and quarterback play. The 2018 game with Rice marks the first time these two teams will meet on the football field in 23 years.
It would take an upset for the ages for this Rice team to beat this LSU team, but there’s always the chance Rice is aided by chaos in the LSU camp. If the wheels fall off and Coach O struggles out of the gate again the team could elect to give him the boot before LSU meets Rice the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. If that does happen, all bets are off.
Here’s what to expect from LSU in 2018.
The Tigers primary objective of the offseason will be deciding on Danny Etling‘s successor under center. The former starting quarterback was selected in the NFL Draft this spring, which at the time seemed to open the door for sophomore quarterback Myles Brennan. The latter was uninspiring in limited action last season.
Brennan appeared in six games, completing 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. It was Brennan that replaced Etling midway through the Tigers home loss to Troy, only to be benched in favor of Etling later on in the game.
The starting job was between him and redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse until Coach Oregon landed what he hopes will be an impactful grad transfer in former Ohio State backup quarterback Joe Burrow. He, presumably, will be handed the starting job at LSU after failing to beat out Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State.
Along with a new name at quarterback, LSU will have to break in several skill players. Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles should take over for DJ Chark as the No. 1 receiver while the running back position is completely wide open. There is no Derrius Guice waiting in the wings to replace a departing superstar. This year the Tigers will be forced to rely on a committee with the load shared between Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Nick Brossette.
LSU has a few new faces along the offensive line as well, but the Tigers depth and experience should enable them to plug and play. Don’t expect any major gaps on that front.
Only in the SEC West can a team lose their top three tacklers and not miss a beat. Arden Key, Donnie Alexander and Corey Thompson are all gone. Still, potential first-round pick Devin White leads will lead the front seven from the linebacker position. White led the Tigers with 133 tackles, a mark which ranked 11th in the nation.
Averaging slightly more than 10 tackles per game, White had more total tackles than any two other defensive players combined. He also had 13.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception.
Backing White up in the secondary is another potential first-round pick, Greedy Williams. He nabbed six interceptions last season, accounting for half of the team total of 12 picks. He’s as lock-down as they come and will draw the task of shutting down the No. 1 pass-catching option in each of the Tigers’ games this season.
The defensive line will see some turnover too, most prominently the loss of veteran player Christian Lacouture. Waiting in the wings are a handful of less experienced, but still talented pass rushers including Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko and host of incoming freshman.