Five bold predictions for LSU football in 2022

LSU enters this year with opportunity but not necessarily through the roof expectations for year one under Brian Kelly. There is a feeling that it will take some time for Kelly to flesh out the program he needs to be successful and to expect that in one year is difficult.

But that won’t keep the Tigers from being competitive in 2022 and possibly exceeding expectations. Here are five bold predictions for the Tigers in 2022 that aren’t totally out of the realm of possibility.

LSU wants win 10 games in 2022

A lot has to break the right way for the purple and gold to reach the double digit win benchmark. For starters, whoever is named the starter at quarterback has to be more than a game manager and rather someone who can consistently make plays and drive the offense down the field.

This LSU defense has a lot of promise and a potential starting rotation at all three levels that should be able to compete. The questions on both sides of the football is what the depth looks like behind the starters. Injuries and poor play are a part of the game and there are bound to be a few decisions that don’t pan out.

Having competent backups at every position is a must for any team hoping to finish an SEC season with two losses or less. It’s far more likely the Tigers hang around that seven or eight win mark which wouldn’t be a failure but should Brian Kelly reach this level of success in year one, the expectations of a quick rebuild only heighten.

Offensive line allows less than 20 sacks in 2022

It’s no secret how much this LSU offensive line has struggled in recent years against the run and pass. But with practically an entirely new starting lineup expected in 2022, and a full year under Brian Davis’ instruction, this group should take that next step.

The purple and gold allowed 38 sacks in 2021 so cutting that number in half for 2022 is a bold ask for this group but not out of the realm of possibility. In 2021, teams that allowed 20 sacks or less were all ranked in the top 25 nationally, which means LSU would have to dramatically improve to clear the under 20 sacks allowed benchmark.

At this time, there really doesn’t appear to be any clear front runners outside of Will Campbell at left tackle and Charles Turner at center. But even those spots could be up for grabs by the time an extremely competitive fall arrives.

LSU produces an All-American in the secondary

In past seasons, it was a foregone conclusion that LSU would have at least one All-American in its secondary. From Derek Stingley, Grant Delpit, Greedy Williams, Donte Jackson, Jamal Adams and many more, LSU has had at least one All-American appearing on a publication every year since 2014 with the exception of one season, 2021.

The Tigers arguably had the most talented cornerback room in the country last season but injuries to Stingley and Ricks early in the year prevented either from reaching that All-American status. Now with a completely new cornerback room and a safety room with plenty of new faces, the future of the secondary is a lot more unpredictable than in past years.

Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Jay Ward, Greg Brooks and Joe Foucha all had extremely productive seasons and could make a push this season as All-American candidates. A young talent like Sage Ryan also can never be counted out of a second year breakout but what makes this so interesting is the fact that there are no clear superstar returners for the first time in quite a while.

LSU sees a defensive player record 10+ sacks

The history is not long with LSU players who have recorded 10+ sacks in a season. In fact the list is extremely short with Arden Key recording 12 in 2016, Gabe Northern recording 11 in 1994 and Rydell Melancon recording 10 in 1981.

In 2022 there are multiple players who could reach that 10 sack threshold including BJ Ojulari, Maason Smith and Ali Gaye. Ojulari came relatively close in 2021 with a seven sack season while Gaye has combined for 4.5 in his first two seasons. Smith is a true wild card as he recorded four sacks as a true freshman but figures to be used in a multitude of ways as one of the SEC’s best returning interior defensive line threats.

With the dominance of this defensive line is expected to show, it wouldn’t be surprising for one to join that elite company.

LSU will have first round picks on both sides of the ball

It’s not a far-fetched idea that should a few of these predictions break the right way, the Tigers could be looking at multiple first round picks next year. The safe bet is of course wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who’s viewed as one of the elite prospects in the 2023 draft class.

Should Boutte come back healthy from that ankle injury and perform at even the same level he was last year he’ll be one of the first offensive players off the board.

After that is where things get interesting as strong seasons out of BJ Ojulari or linebacker Mike Jones could also propel those two into the first round conversation. Ojulari is an edge rushing menace while Jones is set to lead this linebacker group after coming on very strong at the tail end of last year.

Don’t forget the possibility of a dominant SEC season from Bernard-Converse or Ward to propel them into first round territory as well.

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