The offense of the LSU Tigers is sure to look very different in 2014. The team will lose starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger to graduation along with leading rusher Jeremy Hill and leading receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry as early entrants to the 2014 NFL Draft. While the next quarterback and running back in Baton Rouge seem pretty clear heading into this offseason, there’s a void at receiver that will need to be filled in 2014. Can Travin Dural be the man to take command?
As a freshman, Dural had a limited role in the offense and finished the 2013 season with just seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. But he flashed some excellent playmaking ability and elite speed when he connected with Anthony Jennings, who will likely be the starting quarterback in 2014, for a 49-yard, game-winning touchdown late in the game in LSU’s win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. That is the kind of connection that the Tigers will need next fall between quarterback and receiver to get their offense on track early in the season.
But one area that Dural may have to step up his game is on special teams. There were few athletes as dynamic as a receiver and return-man than Beckham was in 2013. LSU needs to find another player that can provide that spark on returns that Beckham provided so well. Dural saw very limited action in the return-game in 2013, fielding five punts for a total of 12 yards. But the young speedster has skills with the football in his hands and will have to show he can be as dynamic as his predecessor when he takes on a featured role in 2014.
With so much turnover taking place on the LSU offense this season, Les Miles needs to find playmakers who can step up next fall. Could Travin Dural be in store for a breakout sophomore season and emerge as a star in the SEC in 2014?