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By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Following LSU's regular season finale victory over A&M on Senior Day, finishing 9-3 over 12 games, yet another season is in the books, the final fall of the SEC West before conference realignment begins next August.
With just one more game remaining in the distant future ahead, we now have a full picture of who stood out as the 10 best Tigers of 2023....without further explanation, we're going to dive right in, just as we've done every season in which we've covered the team:
10. BRADYN SWINSON
34 TACKLES (21 SOLO)
2 FORCED FUMBLES
Close to at least 8 or 9 sacks, but falling unluckily to the drone of a close miss or the unexpected pain of a nasty, desperate low block, or a violent brush with a fellow pass-rushing teammate instead of the opposition QB, or suffering one uncalled holding penalty after another by a litany of offensive linemen & their silently betraying friends in zebra stripes, LSU edge rusher Bradyn Swinson transferred to Baton Rouge and the SEC from the Pac 12 and not only belonged, he was the only edge rushing Tiger willing to stand up and deliver wire to wire, game to game....
Leading the team in pressures, Swinson could only finish with 2 sacks to his name due to circumstances which weren't always in his favor or under his control (see above).
Still, Swinson must be in our top 10 because he remained one of two elite pass rushers the Tigers could count on throughout the season, a player who produced each game....constantly stuffing the stat sheet with TFLs (6.5), backed by 5 batted passes / PBUs, and 2 forced fumbles (both arriving on each of his 2 sacks).
Each sack changed games for LSU, creating a positive defensive impact on proceedings against Mizzou and Florida, turning each shootout on its head when Swinson's pair of timely sacks supplied rare 3rd down stops, all while forcing fumbles, smashing the quarterback, and causing the most backfield havoc over 4 quarters on both occasions.
Adding his direct impact on those 2 victories, combined with his team-leading 22 pressures (1 more than Harold Perkins), 2nd ranked 6.5 tackles for loss (trailing only Perkins), and nonstop, unceasing disruption (ranking 2nd concerning pass breakups, 5, & 2 forced fumbles), the Oregon transfer littered the box score with big plays in every game across the schedule, even as he played limited snaps behind Ovie Oghoufo (379 total defensive snaps, 7 games at 30 snaps or less, no more than 46 in any game).......In reality, LSU fans should be alarmed at where this team would be right now without Bradyn's consistent pressures and trench disruption.
I'm very intrigued to see how Swinson will evolve in year 2 alongside a re-tooled defensive line, hopefully surrounded by returning veterans along the interior, and flanked by the ultimate promise of LSU's young edge rushers....alongside a revamped 2024 D-line, we could see All-American numbers from #13's wild, frenetic, death-diesel brand of edge rushing.
#9 & THE REST OF THE COUNTDOWN COMING NEXT
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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