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Opponent Q&A: Golden Boot Edition

Talking LSU with who knows them best.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s LSU week so we’re kicking off the week asking Billy Gomila about the Tigers. As always check out the work over at And The Valley Shook as well leading up to the game.

1. From the outside, it's been kind of hard to really know how good this LSU team really is, what's the biggest reason behind the inconsistency?

Youth along the offensive/defensive fronts, plus some struggles in transitioning to a new scheme on the offensive side of the ball. We knew coming into this season that LSU would be very thin along the offensive line, green at wide receiver and young on defense. In training camp, they lost a very good starter in Maea Teuhema, which hurt depth at both guard and tackle, and there were a number suspensions for various reasons that hurt depth on defense. Throw the injuries on top of that -- Derrius Guice still isn't 100 percent, Arden Key missed most of training camp and the first few games and took time to get up to speed, plus missed time for defensive linemen Rashard Lawrence and Ed Alexander and suddenly, this LSU team isn't quite the talented behemoth everybody's used to seeing.

And then you just had a lot of younger players that needed an adjustment to doing things the right way. The losses to State and Troy seemed to bring that along, and the comeback against Auburn proved to be a huge confidence-booster. Even last week, with a loss expected against Bama, I can stand and say LSU gave it everything they had, and showed some promise for the future, if they can build on that.

2. From the Troy loss to the Auburn comeback, has this season been seen as a success or a failure? Would fans be fine with an 8-4, 9-3 finish?

For me, I had this team pegged for 2-3 losses depending on how things broke. I didn't envision Troy as one of them, obviously, but I did expect them to compete. The way this team has come back from that has been admirable, and if they can finish strong in these final games, a 6-2 conference record and a shot at a New Year's Six Bowl game is very promising.

3. What's the general perception of Orgeron right now? It feels like his seat isn't near as hot as the rest of the SEC West but how close is it?

Just as we saw with Les Miles, there will always be a subset of fans that will never be happy. Some just didn't want Orgeron and will be constantly waiting to point and say "I Told You So" at every misstep, but as those types often do, they play themselves into irrelevancy. Most fans had somewhat modest expectations for this team. The big key is that Orgeron continues to build on this sort of season, whereas Miles had gotten locked into a cycle of repeating them.

If LSU were to lose out, and then struggle to close out in recruiting, people would go right back to flipping out. But I don't think that's going to happen, and I think when all is said and done there will be a lot to be happy about for this team.

4. The Ole Miss game was the only P5 game Guice has cleared 100 yards this year. What’s been the biggest reason for that?

He hasn't been healthy. He tweaked his knee in training camp, and he's never really been able to get back to his old self. Honestly, even if in the Ole Miss game, as many long runs as he broke there were times you could say that, were he completely healthy, he wouldn't have been tracked down from behind.

The good news for LSU (bad news for Arkansas, I suppose), is that he appears to be still at that Ole Miss level. Yeah, didn't really break out versus Alabama, but what running back does?

5. LSU’s defensive lines in the past have been a huge problem for the Hogs. Arden Key has had some injury issues but how was the group as a whole looked this year?

It's coming off it's best game against Alabama last week, even in the loss. There's a good mix of seniors playing their hearts out -- Greg Gilmore and Christian LaCouture, and next-level talents like Key and Lawrence. Another big difference is that they've added depth from senior Frank Herron, who missed the first six games on suspension, and sophomore Ed Alexander, who had been out with injury. That gives LSU enough of a rotation to hold up, and this group executes really well in terms of keeping the linebackers free, like Key, Devin White and Corey Thompson.