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HomeFootball2013 Fall Preview: LSU Tigers

2013 Fall Preview: LSU Tigers


LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) during a fall practice at the McClendon Practice Facility. Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) during a fall practice at the McClendon Practice Facility. Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-

LSU Tigers: Team Overview


Returning Offensive Starters: 7 (SE, FL, LT, RG, RT, QB, FB)

Returning Defensive Starters: 3 (MLB, RCB, SS)

Returning Specialists: 0


Projected Overall Record: 9-3 (UA, UGA, UF)

Projected SEC Record: 5-3 (UA, UGA, UF)

Projected SEC West Record: 5-1 (UA)


Ratings (Ex, Vg, Av, Fr, Pr)

Quarterbacks: Vg Defensive Line: Vg

Running Backs: Ex Linebackers: Fr

Wide Receivers: Vg Defensive Backs: Vg

Offensive Line: Vg Special Teams: Fr


LSU was hit harder by graduation and early entry than most other SEC teams. But an experienced offense, an upgrade in offensive coaching and a strong overall talent level give Tiger fans hope that LSU can be a surprise team on the national stage. Continued development at the quarterback position and answering questions at linebacker and on special teams will be the most important tasks for Les Miles’ staff going forward.



Cam Cameron is LSU’s new offensive coordinator, which figures to be a major upgrade on the playcalling side of things. Cameron is inventive in his approach to the game and his flexibility would seem to be a good fit with Miles’ tendency to take a renegade approach. But the Tigers will stick with an I-formation as its base offense, which highlights strengths at running back and quarterback. The big question on this side of the ball is the offensive line, which underachieved last year and has injury concerns.



Most thought Zach Mettenberger was headed for “bust” territory before LSU’s game against Alabama. But Mettenberger finally put it all together in that game, and nearly orchestrated an upset. By year’s end, he had solidified the position and acquitted himself well, finishing the year with 2,609 yards passing and throwing 12 touchdowns against 7 picks. Mettenberger’s raw size and arm strength are tops in the league, but he is still a bit behind Alabama’s and Georgia’s Aaron Murray in terms of reading defenses. Should anything happen to Mettenberger, LSU is in good shape behind him, with Stephen Rivers and Rob Bolden, the latter a Penn State transfer, available for duty. Rivers seems likely to leave fall camp as the primary backup. True freshman Hayden Rettig is the QB of the future.



If ‘s aim was to spend the offseason trying to keep his name out of the police blotter, it didn’t work. But Hill likely won’t face a long-term suspension from the team despite the disturbing details of his rap sheet. He’s too valuable to this team to sit unless Miles has no choice. Hill was probably the second-best running back in the conference last year to Alabama’s Eddie Lacy, and he has the potential to eventually be better (on the field, at least). A rare mix of power and size, Hill always seems to be going forward for three yards after contact. Behind him are a pair of talented veterans, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard. Hilliard will also back up J.C. Copeland at fullback, and like Hill is a bruiser with good straight-ahead speed. Copeland can be supremely effective in the fullback role if he doesn’t lose focus and make dumb mistakes. Blue, at 6’2” and 220 pounds, is the “baby” of the bunch. Terrence Magee will add depth at running back, while Connor Neighbors helps out at fullback.



In terms of raw talent, LSU might rival Alabama. But when it comes to production, especially in the clutch, the results have often belied the ability. It’s time for junior Odell Beckham Jr. to step up and become the all-SEC threat he’s capable of being. LSU has plenty of experienced help for him in the forms of Jarvis Landry, Kadron Boone and James Wright. All are upperclassmen. JUCO transfer Quantavius Leslie and holdover Jarrett Fobbs will help provide depth, along with freshmen Kevin Spears and . Tight end is wide open at the moment, with Dillon Gordon, Travis Dickson and Logan Stokes all in the mix for time. True freshman DeSean Smith has the talent to play early if he can fight his way through the veterans.



Like wide receiver, this group has talent beyond its accomplishments, to date. LSU is solid at tackle, with La’el Collins on the left side and Vadal Alexander on the side. Things are little dicier in the middle. Trai Turner will start at guard, but both he and Alexander could stand to improve their consistency. The presumptive starter at left guard coming out of spring, Josh Williford, might have to give up football due to repeated concussions. If he does, it will be a double blow, because Williford was also the likely replacement for new center Elliott Porter in the event of injury or ineffectiveness. Now, that will fall to a freshman, Ethan Pocic. Left guard will be either freshman Evan Washington or JUCO transfer Fehoko Fanaika unless Williford comes back. Freshman Jerald Hawkins will be the primary backup at tackle, with Derek Edinburgh Jr. also in the mix. LSU has plenty of size here – five players are in the neighborhood of 6’7” or more – but there is precious little experience. Further injury issues could cause problems.


There are no major changes to scheme on this side of the ball, where continues to field competent units. But LSU is having to rebuild everywhere other than safety. Most of the replacement starters were key reserves in 2012, but the depth chart behind those new starters has virtually no experience within it. As usual, LSU will be big and fast, but the coaches must accelerate the learning curve.



LSU will have three-and-a-half new starters here, with tackle Anthony Johnson having a handful of starts under his belt already. He and Ego Ferguson will form a nice tackle combination, while new ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter look promising. As for the backups, it’s wide-open at the moment and LSU will likely shuffle players non-stop up to the opener. Junior Jordan Allen is the rare upperclassman, and will probably be the third end. Mickey Johnson, Quentin Thomas and Christian LaCouture are vying for time in the middle along with Greg Gilmore. Freshman Tashawn Bower is expected to push for early playing time at end. Fortunately for LSU, Miles recruited well the last two seasons along the line, and the Tigers will lean on the fruits of that labor.


LSU’s have been average as a group recently despite having better-than-average talent. The same is expected for this year’s team. The only returning starter is Lamin Barrow, who will be exclusively a middle linebacker in 2013 and is looked upon as a team leader. The outside linebacker starters are still a bit unsettled. Tahj Jones missed the entirety of the season except for the due to academics. He is expected to push junior D.J. Welter for the weakside job. Both players are on the small side, but have good speed and can cover. The other starter could be Lamar Louis, Kwon Alexander or Deion Jones, and even then a true freshman could force his way into the mix. Kendall Beckwith would be the most likely of that bunch, and would give LSU a true stopper at the position rather than the hybrid safety types ahead of him. Louis, Alexander, Welter and both Joneses all have question marks, either regarding their size, consistency or off-field concerns. And if Barrow were to be injured, things could get bad.



Despite losing two starters, LSU should be in good shape, particularly at safety. Craig Loston returned for his senior season and could end up being the best in the conference. The new starter at free safety, Ronald Martin, played well and often in 2012. Micah Eugene gives the Tigers some experience coming off the bench. At corner, Jalen Mills returns after a solid freshman season, and will be joined by fellow sophomore Jalen Collins. All four starters at 6’1” or better, and Collins is as big as some receivers. The primary concern will be depth. Corey Thompson joins Eugene at safety, but everyone else in the mix is a freshman. Kavahra Holmes will battle true freshmen Jeryl Brazil and Tre’Davious White for the reserve corner slots. Unlike the starters, those three are all shorter cornerbacks.



LSU is replacing both kickers, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Tigers swap one Australian (Brad Wing) for another, Jamie Keehn, at punter, while replacing one French-named kicker (Drew Alleman, or “Ah-le-mah”) with Colby Delahoussaye. Keehn has a strong leg, while Delahoussaye is seen as accurate, but not as leg-strong as Alleman was. To that end, kickoff specialist James Hairston is in the mix for the as well, or at least when LSU attempts something from long distance. LSU has endless options at kick returner, although Jeryl Brazil is expected to grab one of those jobs, with any number of receivers and defensive backs in the mix as well.


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