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2015 season in review: LSU Tigers

Every season has highs and lows, but LSU took that to the extreme this season. Between weather cancellations, Heisman chases, firing rumors, strong starts and late fades, Les Miles’ Tigers (8-3) kept their fans on the edge of their seats.

We finally learned Miles would keep his job after the 19-7 win over Texas A&M to conclude the regular season, but after enduring a three-game losing streak in November, the Tigers will carry several questions into the offseason. Let’s recap the season, leading up to the Dec. 29 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl matchup with Texas Tech, and look ahead to 2016:

Best moment: Perhaps the coolest moment of the season was when LSU’s Vadal Alexander and Christian LaCouture carried Miles off the field following the Texas A&M game. Nobody knew whether it would be Miles’ last appearance in Tiger Stadium as the coach until after the game, but LSU’s players and fans let Miles know where he stood with them, just in case. From an on-field perspective, Leonard Fournette’s 228-yard performance against Auburn -- one of three consecutive 200-yard games for the sophomore star -- and Trent Domingue’s game-winning touchdown run off a fake field goal probably stood out as the most memorable achievements.

Worst moment: The 30-16 loss to Alabama qualifies, but let’s get more specific. LSU still had an outside chance at turning it into a competitive game when Fournette scored a touchdown to make it 30-16 with 9:18 to play. However, Alabama immediately demoralized the Tigers with a 13-play, 78-yard drive to drain the remaining time off the clock. What we’ll remember most about the drive was how Derrick Henry pounded the Tigers for 78 rushing yards on 11 carries, pushing his total for the game to 210 yards on 38 attempts. Alabama converted three third downs on the drive, including a 29-yard Henry run on third-and-9 from the Alabama 27.

Offensive MVP: Fournette is the only choice here. He broke the school record with 1,741 rushing yards and will likely finish somewhere inside the SEC’s all-time top five for single-season rushing yards. He did things that no LSU running back -- and in some cases, no SEC running back -- had ever done before. Although he lost his overwhelming Heisman front-runner status when Alabama held him to 31 yards on 19 carries, Fournette still finished sixth in the voting and leads the FBS with an average of 158.3 rushing yards per game.

Defensive MVP: Deion Jones had started exactly one game in his first three seasons on campus, making his mark mostly as a special-teams ace. But Jones took off in his first year as a starter, finishing the season as one of five finalists for the Butkus Award. The outside linebacker leads the Tigers with 92 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. He also made four sacks, picked off two passes and recorded six quarterback hurries. After the season, he will play in the Senior Bowl all-star game, a major honor for a guy who had never been more than a role player prior to his outstanding senior season.

Biggest question for 2016: Bigger questions might eventually arise, depending on which underclassmen declare for the NFL draft, but for now, LSU’s biggest question is the same as it has been for nearly two years: How can the Tigers become more consistent at quarterback? Brandon Harris wrestled the job away from Anthony Jennings to open the season, and it appeared at midseason as if Harris might be the answer. Maybe he is, but a rocky November created reasonable doubts. Harris has the tools to be better than what he showed (53.1 completion percentage, 1,904 yards, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions) in his first season as a starter.

Reason for optimism in 2016: Again, the underclassman question is always a concern at LSU. If prospects such as cornerback Tre’Davious White, left tackle Jerald Hawkins and linebacker Kendell Beckwith choose to return, LSU has to like its chances even more. The schedule will be more difficult -- starting with an opener against Wisconsin at the Green Bay Packers’ famed Lambeau Field -- but with a star-studded 2014 signing class led by Fournette, Harris, safety Jamal Adams, receiver Malachi Dupre and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, the Tigers will be positioned for success again next season.