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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 4 LSU

Les Miles AP

2011 record: 13-1 overall, 8-0 in SEC (1st in West)

2011 postseason: SEC title game (42-10 win over Georgia); BcS title game (21-0 loss to Alabama)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 2/No. 2

Head coach: Les Miles (103-39 overall, 75-18 in seven seasons at LSU)

Offensive coordinator: Greg Studrawa (sixth season at LSU, second as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 22nd rushing offense (202.6 ypg); 106th passing offense (152.5 ypg); 86th total offense (355.1 ypg); 17th scoring offense (35.7 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: John Chavis (fourth season at LSU, fourth as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 5th rushing defense (90.1 ypg); 8th passing defense (171.4 ypg); 2nd total defense 261.5 ypg); 2nd scoring defense (11.3 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: five

Location: Baton Rouge, La.

Stadium: Tiger Stadium (92,542; grass)

Last league title: 2011

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
Normally when a team loses its two most experienced quarterbacks, it’s a cause for significant concern.  In LSU’s case, it’s cause for much joy and jubilation. Gone are Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, the Bonnie & Clyde of the QB position the past three seasons and who “helped” the Tigers to the 106th-ranked passing offense — out of 120 teams — last season.  In is Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger, a strong-armed passer who has the ability to keep defenses honest enough that they’ll actually have to (gasp!) respect the passing game and allow Miles to stick his fork deeper into his meat and potatoes — a power running attack.

The Bad
It looked like not much … until Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu got kicked off the team, which makes a return to the Top 5 much more questionable than we had originally presumed. The loss of seven starters from a defense that was second in the country in yards and points allowed will certainly have an impact.  Playing conference road games at Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M and Arkansas is certainly not optimal in the Tigers’ bid for a second straight SEC title, but it is manageable.

The Unknown
Certainly there’s a lot of hype surrounding Mettenberger, but what exactly will LSU be getting under center? Mettenberger has only thrown 11 passes — all of those in mop-up duty last season — during a collegiaie career that began at Georgia. After redshirting as a true freshman in 2009, Mettenberger exited spring practice in 2010 with perhaps a slight lead in UGA’s race to replace Matthew Stafford — a race that includes current Bulldogs starter Aaron Murray.  An arrest prior to the start of those spring sessions, however, led to his dismissal and a year in the JUCO ranks in 2010.  Obviously, Mettenberger has never started a game at this level, and to do it now on a team with title aspirations makes one wonder if he does indeed have “the chest” to handle such a responsibility.

Make-or-break game: vs. Alabama, Nov. 3
Last year, LSU got the best of Alabama in the soccer-style regular season match-up in Tuscaloosa, with the Tide pulling the ultimate defensive trump card in the BcS title game. This season, the Tigers get the Tide in Death Valley, and will be looking to avenge the stunning shutout loss this past January. The winner of this game will likely be in the driver’s for both the West’s slot in the SEC title game and, possibly, one of the two slots in the 2013 BcS title game. Yeah, not much at stake there.

Heisman hopeful: cornerback Tyrann Mathieu … oh, never mind.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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5 Responses to “CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 4 LSU”
  1. southernpatriots says: Aug 8, 2012 4:30 PM

    Thanks JT for not putting LSU at #1. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference but it may just not add greater pressure on them and greater motivation to opponents.

    The season will commence in a few more weeks and that will get all this started again. I expect LSU to eclipse the record of last year. Much more balance, a long ball threat, the best tandem in RBs in college football, a returning and motivated defense, a matured and great OL, and maybe Miles will let his coaches coach, and there should be some improvements, which if there are, the SEC et al, should be concerned.

  2. suprmous says: Aug 8, 2012 10:46 PM

    How do southernpatriots, good to see you. Can’t help but to agree with ya on not bein #1. You know as well as I do that takes away a lot of focus and that’s what we need a lot of and just not a l’il of. I can’t wait to see Zach show his stuff. If hes truly turned those corners hes stated he has it’ll be forever a good Sataday for us and a bad day for our opponents. Not takin away from those good ones but Zach’s just got somethin bout him that puts a smile on my face when watchin him execute drills. And bless that Defensive Crew, oh Lawd what can you say but whata masterpiece. Definitely we have another team to be proud of. Ok, I realize I’m over the top with prejustice (which keeps the 3 that played for Bama scratchin their heads wonderin how ever did we get a sistah who roots for LSU) but it just gives me warm fuzzies to be a Tiger fan. And all I can say’s GEAUX TIGERS!!

  3. southernpatriots says: Aug 9, 2012 12:14 AM

    Good to hear from you. It surely must have been quite a time between you and your brothers, with you an LSU fan and your brothers faithful to the Crimson Tide? Interesting family dynamics….ha.\

    I sure hope all is well with the preparations of LSU for a season during which they will be the focus of any team who plays them. However, like you, I am encouraged by hearing of the great practices that Zach is having.

    At first, truthfully, I was quite upset to hear that Bolden, the QB transferring from Penn State, was coming to Baton Rouge. He reminded me so much of JJ, I just did not want another one. I really want LSU to have a more balanced attack that if a team boxes the line with their DL and linebackers and sneaks up their defensive backs to protect against the run, that the LSU QB will pass the ball right over their heads for a huge gain or TD.

    Zach Mettenberger appears to have the arm strength and accuracy to do this. I have grown concerned each season of the past years to have most of the burden to be upon the special teams and defense to provide offense. LSU’s QBs the past years provided offense which ranked almost last among all FBS teams.

    However, Miles explained that during the past two seasons where LSU won the national championship that the starting QB went down and there was a great need for the backups to play in a starting position. We need a pro-style QB to spread out the defenses to allow the best RB tandem in college football to mow over the opponents.

    Supermous, Take care of yourself! Keep posting despite some who really hate it, those with understanding and fairness appreciate it.

  4. rsmeans says: Aug 10, 2012 9:25 AM

    I am not an LSU fan but putting Oklahoma and USC above the Tigers is ridiculous. Flag football teams with no defense like USC and Oklahoma do not win NC. Both historically were elite teams but their time in the sun has expired and chances of a NC for either in the next decade is remote indeed. Only three teams have a realistic chance to win the NC. They are Alabama, LSU and South Carolina.

  5. tigersgeaux says: Aug 13, 2012 12:55 AM

    The loss of the freewheeling Tyrann Matthieu hurts all the LSU coaching staff who loved/loves him, his fellow players who cared for him, LSU fans and all his supporters out here. He admitted he was stupid and was very VERY sorry. Hope he gets the help he needs and is able to break with his past and enjoy a successful future.

    LSU will reload. They will not replace Tyrann. Chavis will go back to a traditional defense. No roaming defensive backs, just traditional defenses. That will make it more difficult for any offensive coach to key on one player to take him out of each play. LSU is deep with defensive backs, so it should not be hard to carry on.

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