#12 LSU Football 2013 Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall Rank: #12
#6 SEC

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LSU finished fifth in the SEC last season.  Considering what the Tigers of Baton Rouge have done over the past 8 to 10 seasons, fifth is almost mind-boggling, especially after a 10-3 finish!  Most other programs would kill for that record.  The Tigers will have an uphill battle trying to climb back to the top of the SEC in 2013.  Their defense was their stronghold last season and they lost a lot of players to the NFL.  The offense held the Tigers back in 2012.  They used to have studs at all offensive positions year in and year out.  Last season, nearly every skill position struggled.  The offensive weapons will have to play a lot better for the Tigers to reach the conference title game.

2012 Record: (10-3, 6-2)
2012 Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Clemson (L 24-25)
Coach: Les Miles (85-21 at LSU, 113-42 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cam Cameron
Defensive Coordinator:  John Chavis

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jeremy Hill, RB, 755 yards
Passing: Zach Mettenberger, QB, 2,609 yards
Receiving: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, 713 yards
Tackles: Lamin Barrow, LB, 104
Sacks: Micah Eugene, S, 3.5
Interceptions: Craig Loston, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Kenny Hilliard, WR Jarvis Landry, DT Anthony Johnson, CB Jalen Mills

Key Losses: LB Kevin Minter, S Eric Reid, DB Tharold Simon, DT Sam Montgomery, DE/LB Barkevious Mingo, DL Lavar Edwards

LSU will still be a good defensive team in 2013 though it remains to be seen how they will stack up to last year’s unit.  They lost three starters to the first round of the NFL draft. This conference is won on defense, and undoubtedly Les Miles has found pieces to replace his stars.  For instance, he still has important contributors in Anthony Johnson and Lamin Barrow returning to solidify the middle of the defense that ranked ninth nationally in rushing defense.  LSU and defensive coordinator John Chavis have been known to pressure the ball.  Last season they attacked the line of scrimmage and averaged seven tackles for loss per game.  With Barrow leading the way, Chavis once again has athletic linebackers to hone in on the ball and create some havoc at the point of attack.  Such an attacking style leads to takeaways, and LSU led the SEC in turnover margin last season.  Quarterback Zach Mettenberger takes good care of the ball himself, which provides greater scoring opportunities for the Tigers.

The key to improving somewhat mediocre (at least for LSU) expectations for the Tigers this season is going to be the improved play of Mettenberger.  He is good at ball control, but he needs to improve his throwing ability if this team wants to go anywhere.  He only threw seven interceptions last season.  He also only threw 12 touchdowns.  They had good production from the running game in regard to scoring, but in order to rise to the top of the strongest conference in America, the quarterback has to prove he can go out and win games for the team.  Two-hundred yards throwing per game is not going to launch a team into the championship.  Also, Mettenberger is more of a pocket passer, and defenses got to him last year.  The offensive line is going to have to improve on their 32 sacks given up so Mettenberger has an opportunity to get better.  Unfortunately, the Tigers may have lost senior guard Josh Williford for the season due to a concussion.

The Bottom Line:
LSU is always going to be in the hunt.  That is how solid of a program Miles is running in Baton Rouge.  Based on the other teams in the conference and their division, it is difficult to see them ultimately winning the conference title.  They might have a shot at the West if Alabama falters, but teams like Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina stand in their way in the East.  The offense is going to have to be a lot better if the Tigers wish to return to championship glory days.  The reinstatement of Jeremy Hill at running back should ease some of the burden on Mettenberger.  How Miles replaces a bunch of defensive starters will also be an integral part to a successful season.  

Projected Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.69 (50th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 200.54 (92, 11)
Total Offense: 374.23 (85, 10)
Scoring Offense: 29.77 (58, 8)
Rushing Defense: 101.62 (9, 3)
Pass Defense: 206.0 (28, 6)
Total Defense: 307.62 (8, 3)
Scoring Defense: 17.54 (12, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.23 (T5, 1)
Sacks: 2.69 (19, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (89, 10)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#77 Odell Beckham
#80 Anthony Johnson
#88 Zach Mettenberger
#95 Craig Loston
#104 La'el Collins

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#41 Ethan Pocic
#46 Tre'Davious White
#81 Frank Herron
#83 Kendell Beckwith
#101 Jeryl Brazil
#114 DeSean Smith
#116 Josh Boutte
#137 Greg Gilmore
#148 Hayden Rettig
#198 Melvin Jones
#225 Jeremy Cutrer
#228 John Diarse


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