Heading into the 2021 season, the expectations for the LSU Tigers were sky-high. The team was coming off a 5-5 campaign but two new coordinator hires and another top-five recruiting class coming in had many buying into the team.
I predicted a second-place finish in the SEC West with a 10-2 record and a trip to a New Years Six bowl game. Other analysts such as Barrett Sallee had them going all the way to the SEC Championship with an 11-1 record. It wasn’t all sunshine and daffodils, as some thought that the 5-5 campaign was anything but an anomaly. The previews were at both ends of the spectrum for 2021.
One game in and some are left wondering if their high hopes would end up being just egg on their faces. It isn’t just a kneejerk reaction, if the team was coming off a championship season and lost the first game, no one would bat an eye.
LSU report card vs UCLA, snap counts and PFF grades
Ed Orgeron brought in an offensive coordinator based on the recommendation of Joe Brady. Why shouldn’t he listen to Brady, after all, he led that offense to a national championship in 2019. The problem is that Jake Peetz had never called plays at the collegiate level, or any level for that matter. His first shot at calling plays came at LSU. Was this another questionable decision by Orgeron or one made of desperation?
Let’s look at the defensive side of the ball with Daronte Jones. A defensive coordinator who hasn’t called plays since 2009 with Bowie State at the FCS level. His last coordinator job was 12 years ago. Why would Orgeron go with someone who hasn’t had a defensive coordinator position since? Well, he worked with Dave Aranda at Wisconsin in 2015. That felt more like I whiffed on the guy I wanted in Marcus Freeman, so let’s go with a guy associated with Aranda. Was this questionable or desperate?
At least he interviewed the coaches this time around, something Orgeron admitted he didn’t do in 2020.
I hired some coaches, I didn’t even interview them from the last staff. I’m not doing that again. – Orgeron on staff hires in March
We aren’t here to say that those hirings were awful just one game into their tenures at LSU. However, they did look to be in over their heads a bit after watching UCLA have their way with both units. That falls directly at the feet of the head coach. It is his responsibility to have his guys ready to go against the Bruins, they looked outcoached. Not only that, this team prides itself on being physical. UCLA outmuscled them.
Updated game-by-game predictions using the Football Power Index for the LSU Tigers
Is Ed Orgeron’s days numbered at LSU? Not quite ready to go there just yet. However, if they lose multiple games before they even get to Ole Miss and Alabama in late October and early November, he might just get that Les Miles treatment before the season comes to an end.
We have heard the comparisons of Ed Orgeron to former Auburn Tigers head coach Gene Chizik. Based on how the 2020 campaign went and 2021 started, it sounds more plausible with every moment. The question now is he going to live up to the comparison or does Orgeron have another trick up his sleeve?