Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU running back Derrius Guice

5 things we know for sure about the LSU football team this spring

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we list a few things we know for certain, watch a big man motor, catch up on a busy weekend and much, much more. Enjoy!

This much is certain

So much of the focus this spring has been about what we don’t know about the LSU football team. Who is going to start at quarterback? Who’ll step up for Arden Key? How will the players adjust to Matt Canada’s offense? You know, the essentials.

But today, let’s try something different. Here are 5 things we know for certain about the LSU football team and why it’s good we know these things now:

1. Derrius Guice is LSU’s starting running back

LSU’s most obvious returning offensive starter also is the team’s most important. He returned from injury and lit up the team’s scrimmage Saturday with nine carries for 72 yards. When healthy, Guice might just be the best running back in the SEC. Pencil him in. No question marks necessary there.

2. LSU’s defense is going to be fast

Everyone knows how fast Donte Jackson is. Some say he’s the fastest man in college football. But LSU’s No. 1 cornerback won’t be the only speedster on the LSU defense. The Tigers might end up starting four corners this season: Jackson and Kevin Toliver on the edge, a nickel corner in the middle and former corner Ed Paris at safety. On top of that, Donnie Alexander is one of the speedier linebackers you’ll find and Devin White, LSU’s other inside linebacker, is a former running back. And starting outside linebacker Corey Thompson is a former safety.

The Tigers are losing a lot of experience on defense, but there’ll be no shortage of athleticism.

3. Freshmen will have a chance to play

Other than wide receiver, cornerback and defensive line, LSU doesn’t look very deep anywhere this spring. When members of LSU’s recruiting Class of 2017 starts practicing in the fall, many of them will have to step up in automatic second-team capacities, especially at inside linebacker and offensive line.

4. There’s going to be a lot of movement

Constant motioning is a hallmark of Canada’s offense. The backs and receivers will be running up and down the field pre-snap to throw off the defense. And that’s not counting how much Canada and Ed Orgeron will be moving themselves. Which might actually be more.

5. It’s the sophomores’ time to shine

LSU didn’t play many true or redshirt freshmen last season. But this year, those guys will have to step up and lead the team. Sophomores Drake Davis, Xavier Lewis and Devin White are all likely starters right now, with Ed Alexander, Rashard Lawrence, Saivion Smith, Dee Anderson and Kristian Fulton likely to get significant playing time as well.

LSU isn’t the most experienced team in the SEC this season, so young players with high upside, like this class of Tigers, will have to step up.

Your weekly LSU football poll question

Let’s keep the LSU football poll for this week on the topic of that fifth point. Which LSU sophomore do you expect to have the biggest season in 2017?

Vote in the poll below. I’ll reveal and discuss your answers in Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.

Create your own user feedback survey

Athlete with a capital A

Kardell Thomas is an offensive lineman committed to the LSU football team for the Class of 2019. And as SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman pointed out Friday, he’s a superb athlete.

But I wouldn’t be doing you guys justice if I didn’t repost this video. Here’s Thomas — all 320 pounds of him — running in the 4X100 meter race for Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge. You’ll recognize Thomas as the guy who looks like he’s 320 pounds.

But will Nick Saban recruit the seventh-graders?

In one of the better Twitter exchanges you’ll ever see, a series of LSU football players described a weekend of paintball on Sunday night.

It all started with an innocuous picture posted by defensive back Cameron Lewis. In it, Lewis, Guice, Toliver, Mannie Netherly and Grant Delpit pose after a day of paintball.

That should’ve been the end of it. But ESPN Radio’s Matt Moscona floated a rumor out to Lewis, saying that he heard the group got defeated in action by a group of middle schoolers.

Lewis and Netherly were pretty direct about the validity of the claim.

And while Guice had a little bit of an excuse, he conceded defeat as well.

Here’s my plea: If you or anyone you know was in the group of seventh-graders involved in schooling a group of elite college athletes in paintball, please comment down below or tweet me @nicksuss. That is a story that needs to be told. That is exactly what the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to do.

Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports update

Football isn’t the only sport at LSU. The Tigers had a busy weekend on other fronts as well. Here’s a recap of what you might’ve missed this weekend in LSU sports:

  • The LSU baseball team lost another weekend series, this one in heartbreaking fashion to Texas A&M. As always, check out SECCountry.com/LSU at around noon Monday CT for my full recap of the weekend in baseball in my weekly “Out of The Box” column.
  • The No. 2 LSU gymnastics team is headed to nationals after a decisive victory against No. 11 Boise State and No. 14 Nebraska in the NCAA Regional meet Saturday. The Tigers will be joined in St. Louis in two weeks by No. 1 Oklahoma, as well as fellow SEC schools Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
  • LSU beach volleyball extended its winning streak to 12 matches over the weekend with wins against No. 10 Georgia State, Jacksonville State, UAB and Austin Peay. At No. 7, LSU beach volleyball is ranked higher than it’s ever been.
  • Softball swept Mississippi State at home this past weekend, taking down the Bulldogs by a combined score of 12-3.
  • The men’s tennis team had one of its better weekends, going 3-1 with two wins against Jackson State and one vs. Ole Miss.
  • Women’s tennis had a less successful go, losing to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Mocking the mocks

Friend of the Briefing, Connor Riley, does NFL draft mocks for SEC Country every week. With the NFL draft less than a month away, let’s take a look at where he has former LSU football players going in his latest first-round mock:

  • Leonard Fournette: Jacksonville Jaguars (Pick 4)
  • Jamal Adams: Tennessee Titans (Pick 5)
  • Tre’Davious White: Green Bay Packers (Pick 29)

Three thoughts:

  1. In a Briefing last week, I said I thought the Titans would be the best fit for Adams’ talents. But the safety has been gaining some late momentum recently. It might be a bit of a shocker if he falls all the way to fifth.
  2. Fournette to the Jags has become a popular trend and I think it’s a good fit. As I’ve noted in the past, Jacksonville ranked last in the AFC last season in rushing touchdowns and doesn’t seem to have long-term confidence in either T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory. But fourth is awfully early to pick a running back, even if it worked out for the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott last season.
  3. I’d be shocked if Tre’ White falls out of the top 20. This is an incredibly deep cornerback draft and teams will be able to pick whatever kind of DB they want, but White’s tactical proficiency should be attractive to a team trying to plug and play a defender to win now.

Et tu, Odell?

Odell Beckham Jr. apparently isn’t an LSU basketball fan. His allegiance is toward UNC, on the quest for another national championship versus Gonzaga on Monday night.

As USA Today Sports’ For The Win blog pointed out Sunday, Beckham is a fervent UNC basketball fan and has been since he attended a Roy Williams basketball camp as a child. Or, as SEC Country’s Alex Hickey put it on Twitter …

Speaking of Alex, you should read his full feature on LSU defensive tackle Aaron Moffitt from Sunday. It’s quite the read for any LSU football fan.

Programming note

Monday is the second Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season, and more than a few former LSU baseball players will take the field. Here’s a quick schedule of how you can watch them, along with my quick preseason LSU baseball in the pros power rankings:

Starting pitcher Kevin Gausman makes the first Opening Day start of his career today for the Baltimore Orioles, beginning at 2:05 p.m. CT. His Orioles take on Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Houston Astros teammates Alex Bregman and Will Harris face off against future Hall of Fame member Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel starts for the Astros.

Reigning National League batting champion DJ LeMahieu begins his quest to repeat Monday when his Colorado Rockies visit the Milwaukee Brewers. The game begins at 1:10 p.m. CT.

Outfielder Mikie Mahtook will make his Detroit Tigers debut today alongside teammate JaCoby Jones when the Tigers face the Chicago White Sox at 3:10 p.m. CT.

Ryan Schimpf has the unlucky distinction of having to face Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw when his Padres open the season Monday at 3 p.m. CT. That game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

LSU baseball in the MLB Preseason Power Rankings

  1. DJ LeMahieu
  2. Will Harris
  3. Kevin Gausman
  4. Alex Bregman
  5. Ryan Schimpf

Honorable mentions: Aaron Nola, Mikie Mahtook

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every column of SEC Country’s daily LSU football column right here.