Four-Year Trend: 2008: (8-5), 2009 (9-4), 2010 (11-2), 2011 (13-1)
Notable Player: Sam Montgomery. The redshirt junior defensive end is the standout on LSU’s deep and talented defensive line. He led the Tigers with nine sacks last year and was a FWAA first-team All-American. He should be dominant again in 2012. Expect to hear much about his “motor,” “athleticism,” and “active hands” next April.
Top Newcomers: Kwon Alexander (LB), Travin Dural (WR), Corey Thompson (S), Vadal Alexander (G), Jerald Hawkins (OT)
Hurricane Prep: Les Miles’ word of the day was “reconcile” as the Tigers rode out Hurricane Isaac. Players “reconciled where they’re at” and coaches “reconciled” with canceling practice on Wednesday. LSU’s opener against North Texas at 7pm ET on Saturday should proceed as scheduled.
Honey Badger: Tyrann Mathieu. He should have given more of a shit. Last year’s Heisman finalist cornerback was booted from the team this fall and has entered a drug rehab facility in Houston. LSU will miss his playmaking ability on defense and special teams, but should not miss him much on a play to play basis. The Honey Badger was not that great in man to man coverage.
Why We Like Them: Defense and Special Teams. LSU’s offense may be pedestrian, but the Tigers engender points by controlling field position. Punter Brad Wing routinely pins opponents inside the 10-yard-line. John Chavis’ marauding defense takes it from there, halting movement and forcing mistakes. The Tigers were second to Alabama in yards per play defense last season. That defense was young, raw playing a number of underclassmen. Despite some talented personnel losses, this year’s unit could be even better.
Why We’re Concerned: Offense. The Tigers’ were 50th in yards per play offense last season. This was sufficient for every opponent, except Alabama. LSU returns four starters on the line and tremendous tailback depth. They have athleticism at wide receiver. It all depends on the quarterback. Former Georgia player and JUCO All-American Zach Mettenberger is not flawless, but he has a big arm that could make the Tigers far more dynamic in the passing game. Whether a Les Miles offense can make the most of it, is another matter.
Circle This Game: Alabama at LSU [Nov. 3] The third “Game of the Century” in two years. Both could enter this matchup undefeated. It would decide the SEC West, the SEC and which one would reach the BCS Title Game. The Tigers will seek revenge after last season’s embarrassing title game shutout.
Best-Case Scenario: LSU’s defense is magnificent. Mettenberger leads an offense close to the sum of its talented parts. The Tigers beat Alabama at home, win the SEC and are fortunate enough not to face the Tide again for a BCS Title.
Worst-Case Scenario: The defense gives the Tigers a high floor, as does a much weaker non-conference schedule. The defense is not quite as sharp after losing Claibourne and Brockers. The offense is a work in progress that does not progress. Les Miles can’t find the usual rabbits in its hat. LSU drops games to Alabama, Arkansas and another conference opponent to finish out 9-3.
Projected Bowl: Sugar
[Photo via Presswire]
25. Kansas State 24. Virginia Tech 23. Clemson 22. Boise State 21. Stanford 20. Michigan State 19. Notre Dame 18. Nebraska 17. Oklahoma State 16. Wisconsin15. TCU14. Florida 13. West Virginia 12. Georgia 11. Texas 10. Arkansas 9. Michigan8. Ohio State 7. Florida State 6. South Carolina 5. Oklahoma 4. Oregon