Music to listen to: Ha by Juvenile
I should have gone with some of the great jazz, rock, country, gospel and other awesome genres of music that have come through Louisiana over the years. Instead, we’re choosing hip-hop and taking back to 1999 and my freshman year at Vandy when this northern Yankee was introduced to southern rap by my college dorm mates and it was on from there. WAR Juvenile and the Hot Boy$!
Last Season: The Tigers put together another double-digit win season, earning 10 wins includng an Outback Bowl triumph over Iowa. However, it was the three losses that cost the Tigers not only a chance for a national championship but a right to represent the SEC West in the conference title game.
Outside of a 21-point blowout loss at Alabama, LSU was six points away from potentially competing for a national title. The Tigers lost by three at Georgia and Ole Miss. For most programs, having a 10-win season would be considered a successful campaign. LSU isn’t most programs.
Offense: The Tigers lose their leading passer (Zach Mettenberger), rusher (Jeremy Hill) and two receivers (Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry) from last season. For most programs, this would bring about a call for rebuilding but LSU always manages to reload.
The quarterback position looks to be an open competition even though true freshman Brandon Harris looks to be the man to beat. The other contender is sophomore Anthony Jennings who saw action late last season when Mettenberger went down with a knee injury. The Marietta, Ga. native led the Tigers to a comeback win over Arkansas and started the bowl game against Iowa. Both guys are athletic and can use their legs to extend plays which is in contrast to the dropback tendencies of Mettenberger.
Whoever gets the starting spot will hand the ball off to the continuing staple of elite running backs that come to Baton Rogue. Incoming freshman Leonard Fournette has received the most coverage and will have every opportunity to emerge as the star of the backfield. Senior Terrance Magee will see plenty of playing time and had eight touchdowns last year.
The receivers are painfully young but the offensive line looks to be a strength for the entire team with four starters returning led by senior left tackle La’el Collins and junior left guard Vadel Alexander.
Defense: There were times when the Tigers’ defense looked elite (gave up only 10 points to Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M) last season. But then there were games like the Alabama and Georgia contest where it looked like an average SEC unit.
Similar to offense, LSU lost some strong talent to the NFL but the talent is still at an elite level. Up front, defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter will provide rush on the outside while the tackle positions will be manned by a rotating unit of strong athletes.
The linebacking unit must improve from an inconsistent 2013 campaign but the defensive backfield looks to be strong led by All-Conference contenders Tre’Davious White, Corey Thompson and Rashard Robinson.
|8/30||vs. Wisconsin (Houston)|
|9/6||Sam Houston State|
|9/27||New Mexico State|
|11/27||at Texas A&M|
Its a balanced schedule but has several stumbling blocks. Wisconsin is a preseason top-20 team that will be a tough opponent to start the season at a neutral site agaisnt. Mississippi State could give the Tigers a scare at home before two straight road games at Auburn and Florida. If LSU finds a way past that, they still have Alabama and a trip to Kyle Field to conclude the season.
The key will be how quickly the offense can get it together while the defense holds serve.
I could give you Kevin Faulk, the most underrated SEC running back in conference history. Do you realize that he rushed for 4,557 career yards, third in conference history only behind Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden?
However, I’ll go with JaMarcus Russell who was the worst top pick in NFL history. He had one good half season with the Tigers in 2007 and rode that all the way to the Raiders.
Excellent list to choose from which is expected from the flagship institute from a large state. I’ll take James Carville, I’ve always liked the cut of his jib and he represents the school publically often. Honorable mention: Nic Pizzolatto, John “Earthquake” Tenta, Billy Cannon, Y.A. Tittle, Brian Wilson and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Notice that Shaq isn’t on the list. That’s intentional, I’ve never trusted that guy.
Disclaimer, I’m a BIG fan of southern women, especially Louisiana. The “talent” in that state is outstanding. If I went with non-LSU women, this list would have been long and extensive. However, Ali Landry has always been a favorite of the Inquirer and she’s a Tiger so that’s the choice. Honorable mention: Lolo Jones, Elizabeth McNulty and Christina Cuenta.
I’ve marked the Tigers down for nine wins this season and that may be optimistic. That schedule is nasty because while LSU may pull out a win at Auburn which would be considered an upset, it can just as easily lose at home to someone like Mississippi State and get upset itself.
While I don’t think this is a national title-contending team, a double-digit win season isn’t out of the question.
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