It seems every year that most discussions around college football, especially in the south, have the LSU Tigers pretty close to the top of the list. It makes perfect sense too; the Tigers have always had great recruiting classes year after year, and have always put a solid team on the field. The only thing that has kept the Tigers from the top in the SEC west the last couple of years is the Crimson Tide. With every year’s game between the two meaning more and more, this season’s game in Baton Rouge should live up to all the hype. On November 6th, the Tide will make the trip to the Bayou to try to beat the Tigers for the third year in a row.
Last season, the Tigers had a disappointing season for their standards, going 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the SEC. They also had a loss on New Year’s day, losing to the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Citrus Bowl 19-17. Though the fan base is starting to stir, the Tigers will have to prove something this season to reclaim their status in the SEC west, especially with the emergence of Arkansas and Auburn again in the race.
The biggest question for the Tigers will be on the offensive side of the ball. Last season they struggled on offense on all units. The offensive line was beaten up all season, the running game underachieved, and the quarterback position added to the team’s suffering. This season, it looks as though that will be the same case. Starting at the quarterback, the Tigers will have to choose between juniors Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. Both never quite played the way they were expected to, and the back-up Lee looked more comfortable most of the time than Jefferson, who lead the team with 2,166 yards. The running back position will also be a position the Tigers will have to work on to compete with other teams in the conference. Steven Ridley and Richard Murphy will be a good one two punch, and redshirt Michael Ford has some great potential for getting some carries.
The offensive line will also have to make some improvements; in spring we saw some shuffles up front in the spring to sure up some holes in the line. As for the wide receivers, we know LSU will have some top talent in the receiver core. The biggest change will be Russell Shepard moving from back up quarterback to wide receiver. With the loss of last year’s top receiver Brandon Lafell, Shepard and others like Terrence Toliver and Rueben Randle will have to up their game from last season and create some explosive plays on the outside.
On defense the Tigers will be strong as usual. They return only four starters from last season, but they will have plenty of top talent to fill the holes left open. Kelvin Sheppard may be one of the best linebackers there is and corner back Patrick Peterson may be the best lockdown corner in the game. The Tiger will need some help on the secondary that ranked eighth last season in the SEC in defending the pass. They have made some shifts in the secondary which should allow them to be more physical on that side of the ball and increase their coverage but not lose any rushing help.
The biggest wildcard on the field for the Tigers will be coach Les Miles, who makes some of the worst calls. As for the talent on the field, we know the defense will be sound, but will they be able to put any points on the board? When Alabama comes to LSU this fall, we know that the stadium be rocking with Cajuns, and we will hear some loud, personal phrases yelled Saban’s way. However, on the field Alabama’s offense should be able to put some points on the board and the Tide defense will have ample chances to make the Tiger’s offense make mistakes and capitalize on them.