The Official LSU Tigers Thread
|9 years ago||'05 #67|
$3,898 | 209
COACH AND PROGRAM
Winning 11 games in each of his first two seasons as LSU's head coach didn't allow Les Miles to escape the shadow of former coach Nick Saban, who led the Tigers to a share of the national championship in 2003 before leaving for the Miami Dolphins after the 2004 season.
No matter what Miles has done, critics have been quick to remind him that he has "done it with Saban's players." Even Saban refuses to give Miles any credit for what's happened at LSU the past two seasons. One day after LSU finished its 2006 season with a 41-14 Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame, Saban said, "The players that you saw play last night for LSU were primarily players that were recruited when I was there."
Now Saban's back in the SEC at West Division rival Alabama. Since Saban's hiring, Miles has done his part to fuel the rivalry, telling LSU boosters at a recruiting party that his team was "looking forward" to playing Florida and Auburn, "but we have a new rival in [expletive] Alabama!"
Then, at a booster club meeting in Pensacola, Fla., in May, Miles said, "It's funny, my entire coaching career, I've never enjoyed the color red. Ohio State, Indiana. Shoot, when I was with the [Dallas] Cowboys, it was the Redskins. I just see it as another opportunity to go back to my roots and kick the crap out of another team in red." Yet, for all his fire, enthusiasm and success, Miles has yet to win over the majority of LSU fans. Some fans can't look past the overtime home loss to Tennessee in 2005 or the one-sided loss to Georgia in the 2005 SEC championship game. Or last year's losses to Auburn and Florida, in which LSU scored a combined 13 points. Or the fact the majority of the Tigers' proven players are, indeed, holdovers from the Saban era.
In Miles' defense, the overall program appears to be healthier than the one he inherited, and he has not attempted to distance himself from LSU's winning tradition or expectations.
"We enjoy the past," Miles said. "LSU's past certainly includes some championships and quality teams and players that we're all very proud of. The great fortune of the people who came before me is that they were able to partner with a great school and a great community and a great state to produce some impressive achievements. We feel like we've been able to build on those successes and improve over time."
Still, Miles realizes the only way he can prove himself is to win, and win big. In the eyes of many LSU fans, bigger means more than 11 wins a season and top-five finishes.
"When we came in, the team had just won nine games and lost to Iowa in a bowl game," Miles said. "They lost more than coaches. They lost a quarterback, several defensive lineman, two corners and some guys who were pretty damn special. They had not won the West the year before we got here and they did not play for the championship, but we won the West in our first year here and played for the championship. We went on to beat a top-10 Miami team in the Peach Bowl, won 11 games and finished fifth in the final poll.
"We graduated 22 seniors off that team, including a first-round draft pick in [tailback] Joseph Addai and some outstanding offensive linemen, but we also had a very strong recruiting class. This past year, we got a little bit better: We won 11 games again, finished third in the nation and beat a very successful Notre Dame team in the Sugar Bowl.
"Now we're back in the same situation. We've had three graduating classes that have all graduated very good athletes from great teams. Now we want to get a little better again."
By almost any definition, "a little bit better" means winning the SEC championship and playing for the national championship. Having finished fifth in 2005 and third in 2006, playing for a national title is simply the Tigers' next logical step. That's why LSU is being picked by many preseason polls to win it all.
"It's certainly a compliment to our team," Miles said, "but it's not warranted by any means. Anybody can tap a team as being capable of winning a national championship, and that's all well and good, but as we all know, you have to earn it. No one here is fooled by that.
"There are a number of pieces in our puzzle that we have to put together before we can finish the complete picture. We've got a quarterback who has started just one game in his career. We understand that. We're young at tailback. We have some losses in the secondary. We had four players drafted in the first round, including the first player drafted, and we have to replace them.
"And yet we're talking about improving. It's not a bad thing to be picked in the preseason top five, but we know it's a position we have to earn."
Winning a national championship is not beyond the realm of possibility for an LSU team loaded with 14 returning starters and a wealth of talented young players ready to take on bigger roles. Even with the loss of four first-round draft picks -- quarterback JaMarcus Russell, receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, and free safety LaRon Landry -- and the loss of three offensive a.ssistant coaches, there are plenty of reasons to think the Tigers can win the SEC and play for the national championship.
Of course, no team is perfect, and LSU, like any championship contender, has its share of holes to fill and questions to answer. Most of those concerns start on offense after the loss of five starters and three a.ssistants, including coordinator Jimbo Fisher.
With Fisher leaving for Florida State, offensive line coach Stacy Searels leaving for Georgia and receivers coach Todd Monken joining the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, Miles reshaped the offensive staff by bringing in veteran coordinator Gary Crowton from Oregon along with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa from Bowling Green and receivers coach D.J. McCarthy from UCLA.
"Oregon was an excellent place to coach and coach [Mike] Bellotti is an excellent man to work for, but I just felt like we had a chance to win it all here," Crowton said.
Although Crowton brings a reputation for wide-open offense from his days as head coach at Louisiana Tech and BYU and coordinator at Oregon, he's not as pass-happy as some might think. Oregon did finish ninth in the nation in total offense last season, but the Ducks also ranked 14th nationally and first in the Pac-10 in rushing offense.
For Crowton, it's all about balance, and if the defense wants to take away the run, an offense ought to be able to attack and attack well with the passing game. It's even better if an offense can do that by spreading out the defense and allowing the playmakers to exploit the open spaces.
"They've had a lot of success with what they've done the past few years, so I want to keep as much of the old offense as I can get an understanding of," Crowton said. "They especially did a good job with their run game and their deep passing game, so it was a pretty easy transition. I'll probably bring more quick throws, maybe a quicker pace."
The most immediate problem Crowton faces is replacing three first-round draft picks in the passing game.
"But I do know this: The defense is really good, and that's going to make things a lot better for us," Crowton said. "That should give us a chance to grow and develop. Plus, we've got some really good players coming back in the passing game, so I think we'll grow into a productive offense."
Although the offense still has some holes to fill, particularly at right tackle and receiver, the defense returns eight starters and some talented, experienced reserves from a unit that finished third in the nation in total defense and fourth in scoring defense, allowing 224.8 yards and 12.6 points per game.
"We've got to replace a couple of guys," defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said, "but if we get a couple of guys to step up, I think we're going to be pretty hard to handle. Our guys play with a lot of confidence, and they believe in what we're doing and how we're doing it."
It also helps that a defense with 11 seniors and juniors on the two-deep depth chart is entering its third season under Pelini. With seniors such as defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Blue Ribbon's national preseason defensive player of the year; linebacker Ali Highsmith; strong safety Craig Steltz; and cornerback Chevis Jackson, the Tigers aren't short on experience or leadership.
"We're so much further ahead than we were before," Pelini said. "There wasn't as much of a sense of urgency to put in a bunch of stuff in the spring. We have ideas and we tweak things and we added a few things, but it goes in pretty easy now because most of the guys understand the system and the terminology better. We were able to do a lot before. Now we're able to do a little more.
"We're looking forward to being better than we have been, and we've been pretty good."
The next step for the LSU defense is to do a better job of forcing the issue. For all the Tigers' defensive success the past two seasons, they've forced just 35 turnovers during that time. Some of that is because of the way opponents often become conservative against LSU's defense. Some of it could be attributed to unlucky bounces.
Regardless of the reason, it's something Pelini and the Tigers are determined to change.
"That's the one thing we've got to do better," Pelini said. "We haven't done that a lot the past two years, and I haven't been able to put a finger on it. We've gotten the ball on the ground a lot, but it hasn't bounced our way.
"No matter what, we've got to get more takeaways, and that's something we're looking forward to improving on. When the ball is out, we've got to have a sense of urgency about diving on it. Our guys recognize that we can get better in that area, and they want to get better."
|9 years ago||'05 #68|
$3,898 | 209
Even though quarterback isn't the only concern for the Tigers, it's definitely the one that captures the attention of media and fans. A lot of that has to do with the position itself, but there's no doubt the loss of Russell after his junior season has turned the spotlight even brighter on his replacement, senior Matt Flynn (6-3, 228).
Flynn played in only seven games
last year, completing 12 of 20 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, but it's his performance the year before that captures the imagination of LSU followers. With Russell sidelined by injuries, Flynn took over in the 2005 Peach Bowl against Miami and earned offensive MVP honors by passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns and running for 39 yards in a 40-3 victory.
By the way Flynn played in the spring, it was obvious to Crowton that Flynn had not wasted the past two seasons.
"Matt's been well coached by coach Fisher, and I have to give him a lot of credit for Matt's background, even though he's been a backup quarterback," Crowton said. "Matt's ready to go, and he's really good. He's been sitting behind such a good player, but he would have been a starter a long time ago at a lot of places."
Flynn isn't the same big, strong athlete as Russell, but he brings his own share of positive attributes to the offense.
"He's very heady, very accurate and mobile," Crowton said. "So you'll see a little more mobility than you saw with JaMarcus. Now he's not near as big as JaMarcus, and he has a very good arm while JaMarcus has a great arm, but Matt's still very accurate and very cerebral as a quarterback.
"He can make the reads, he can run the option, he can throw the ball so I think you'll see a variety of different things from Matt."
With Flynn set to start, the biggest problem LSU faces at quarterback is a lack of certainty regarding the status of sophomore Ryan Perrilloux (6-2, 222). Perrilloux is a former national prep player of the year who gave Flynn plenty of competition in the spring only to be suspended indefinitely after a May arrest.
Will Perrilloux return? If so, when? Those are two of the most important questions hanging over the team entering the summer.
"Like with every guy we have, we'll see how it plays out," Miles said. "He has a schedule; he has to do the right things."
If Perrilloux does return, Crowton has little doubt he's ready to play.
"We gave Ryan a good shot, but to be honest we probably gave Matt more reps because he's been there the longest, he had that real good Peach Bowl and he's proven himself," Crowton said. "But Ryan was right on his tail all spring and did a lot of good things."
Of course, if Perrilloux does not return, the Tigers will enter the season with only one quarterback who has played in a college game. In fact, the backup probably would be incoming freshman Jarrett Lee (6-2, 190). The coaches originally planned to redshirt Lee, but instead he arrived on campus in June for summer school and offseason workouts. He'll have to get up to speed in a hurry.
Lee was rated among the top three quarterbacks in Texas and among the top 15 in the country after a great career at Brenham (Texas) High School. Last season he completed 250 of 350 passes for 3,425 yards and 40 touchdowns while playing in a spread offense.
|9 years ago||'05 #69|
$3,898 | 209
Talent at tailback isn't a problem for the Tigers. Instead, the issue is how to make the most of four capable players.
Senior Alley Broussard (6-0, 250) rushed for 867 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2004 but missed the 2005 season after a preseason knee injury. He then spent most of the 2006 season and the spring in and out of Miles' doghouse.
Sophomores Keiland Williams (5-11, 223) and Charles Scott (5-11, 211) showed plenty of positive signs as true freshmen in 2006, especially when Williams rushed for 405 yards and five touchdowns over the final seven games of the season.
Then redshirt freshman Richard Murphy (6-1, 198) used his speed and quickness to jump into the mix in the spring.
"I think we'll see a variety of running backs," Crowton said. "We have Keiland Williams, who did very well in the spring and did some good things last season.
"Alley Broussard is a year away from his knee injury, so we think he's going to be better -- more like he was before when he was real good.
"Charles Scott is a very physical runner, very fast. Then you have Richard Murphy, who had a really big spring game. That gives a lot of possibilities, a lot of depth."
It also brings the potential for some unhappy backs. No matter how many times LSU snaps the ball in a game, some of those backs aren't going to see much playing time.
"For now, it looks like we'll have a running back by committee and go with the hot hand, but there are certain things they all bring to the position," Crowton said. "Murphy is more of a scatback type, which is something they were missing last year. The other guys are more physical, and Broussard is the biggest bruiser of the bunch.
"They all have to know what their role is and stay ready. They've all been very team-oriented so far, so that's been good."
Although the Tigers must establish some sort of rotation, they won't have to look for an experienced and versatile fullback. They already have that in senior Jacob Hester (6-0, 228).
"He can be a tailback, a fullback, catch the ball out of the backfield and make a lot of plays in various ways," Crowton said, "so we're fortunate to have him."
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
It might not be fair to expect LSU to replace both Bowe and Davis and all they brought to the program, but it would be unwise to look past the Tigers' returning receivers.
There might not be a better receiver in the SEC than senior Early Doucet (6-0, 207), who showed plenty of signs in the spring of being ready to step up as a No. 1 receiver and team leader.
"He's got tremendously strong hands, and he goes after the ball extremely hard," Crowton said. "He can be a go-to guy at any time and make plays for you. Then you add the fact that he's a 400-pound bencher, a really strong blocker and really dedicated to the game, always working out, always working to get better, and it's obvious he's the real deal. He's right there with those guys that got drafted in the first round."
Beyond Doucet, none of the returning receivers caught more than five passes last year.
"We'll be a little young at first, and we'll have to depend on Early a lot early in the season," Crowton said. "By the time those other guys get into the heart of conference play, I think we'll be OK."
The leading returning receiver among those young receivers is sophomore Brandon LaFell (6-3, 194), who caught only five passes last season but still scored two touchdowns, including a 58-yarder in the Sugar Bowl.
"Brandon LaFell was the fourth guy last year, and he played in a lot of big games, made a big catch in the Notre Dame game," Crowton said. "He's got good size, and he's really fast. He had a good spring, but he dropped a couple of balls in the spring game."
The most exciting possibility is sophomore Trindon Holliday (5-5, 159), who makes up for his lack of size with dangerous speed.
"Trindon Holliday is a playmaker," Crowton said. "He just ran a 10.08 in the 100 meters in the spring, which is a school record, and we've got to find ways to take advantage of that speed. He's not real big and he's probably not our best choice in the red zone, but from sideline to sideline, he can outrun anybody. We can use him on reserves, screens and get him outside so he can go vertical and catch long passes."
The Tigers also have high hopes for sophomores Chris Mitchell (6-0, 175), Jared Mitchell (5-11, 192) and R.J. Jackson (6-0, 209), a converted running back.
"Chris Mitchell really did a good job in the spring and really made a lot of progress," Crowton said. "He had a 4.39 in the 40 at our pro timing day, so he's got the speed we're looking for, but he's still young and he's got to grow into his capabilities.
"Jared showed a lot of promise, but he only made about half the practices because he plays for the baseball team. He looks real quick and strong, but we still have a lot to find out about him.
"R.J showed an ability to run after the catch and make people miss. He just needs to get more of a feel for being a receiver. He's a work in progress, but there's a lot of promise there.
"We've also got three guys coming in who might be able to make an immediate impact at receiver."
Tight end should be another strong position for the Tigers, in part because senior Keith Zinger (6-4, 259) missed most of the 2006 season with a stomach ailment that allowed sophomore Richard d*ckson (6-3, 237) to start nine games.
"I think you'll see a lot more from the tight end spot than you have in the past," Crowton said, "especially from a receiving standpoint. You've got Zinger, who can catch but he's a really good blocker, and d*ckson can really run and catch.
"The tight ends had only seven or eight catches last season, so I think they'll catch a lot more balls this year. I'd like to see them into the 30s or 40s this year. That would add another dimension to what we're trying to do."
Although LSU's first-team linemen aren't as big as those Crowton worked with Oregon, "they can move, they're real quick, they're real physical and smart, and they've got pretty good experience."
That experience starts with three returning starters: junior center Brett Helms (6-2, 283), junior left guard Herman Johnson (6-7, 351) and sophomore left tackle Ciron Black (6-5, 314).
The real key to the line might be the health of senior right guard Will Arnold (6-4, 319), who started 13 games in 2004-05 and would have started more if not for injuries. Then he started the first five games of the 2006 season before knee and ankle injuries forced him to miss the rest of the season and the spring.
If Arnold can come back, the only question comes at right tackle, where senior Carnell Stewart (6-4, 294) finished the spring with the first team.
"Our left tackle, our left guard and our center are all back," Crowton said, "and if Will Arnold can get healthy again, we can be pretty good up front. That gives us one position to fill in the first line. We feel pretty good about Stewart, so if he can come through, I think that's a pretty solid group."
Crowton called the right tackle spot "a work in progress" and considers redshirt freshmen Matt Allen (6-3, 285) and Mark Snyder (6-7, 284) to be serious contenders for the starting job.
"Especially Matt," Crowton said. "He showed me a lot in the spring. Snyder's got a ways to go yet, but he made progress."
|9 years ago||'05 #70|
$3,898 | 209
Chris Jackson did a lot of punting and some of the kicking the past two seasons, but junior Colt David (5-9, 175) gained valuable game experience during that time when he kicked the PATs and short field goals in 2005 and went on to make 8 of 13 field goals and 51 of 52 PATs in 2006.
"He's got experience, and he's continued to improve since he got here," Miles said, "so anybody who thinks they're going to beat him out for that job has a lot of work to do."
The Tigers did sign freshmen Andrew Crutchfield (6-1, 190) and Josh Jasper (6-0, 165), both of whom are capable of kicking as well as punting.
Crutchfield, from Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord, N.C., was rated the No. 3 kicker in the nation last season by Scout and Rivals. Jasper, from Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tenn., is a two-time first-team all-state kicker who holds the Tennessee high school record with 44 career field goals. He kicked a 54-yarder in high school.
"They're both very capable," Miles said. "They both have strong legs."
The only surprise on the defensive line is the return of senior Glenn Dorsey (6-2, 299), whom most observers expected to join Russell in the first round of the draft. Instead, Dorsey defied draft predictions by staying at LSU for a chance to improve his stock, put himself in position for major national awards and take another shot at a championship.
"We pretty much told him we probably think you should go because we think you'll go high enough," defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said, "but he just made the decision that he wanted to come back. He felt like he had unfinished business in college and wanted to solidify his stock and raise it that much higher.
"He totally believes in what he can do as a football player and wants to do everything he can to make himself a sure top-10 pick and the top player at his position. I think he'll do that. He's a hell of a football player and an even better person. He's a high-character guy; he's bigger, stronger, faster than he has been; and he's hungry. I think he's going to have another phenomenal year."
For all the attention on Dorsey, he's one of four tackles who combine to make the interior line one of LSU's strongest areas. At right tackle, the combination of sophomores Charles Alexander (6-3, 294) and Marlon Favorite (6-1, 295) means the Tigers don't take a step back when they sub. Behind Dorsey at left tackle, the spring progress of sophomore Al Woods (6-5, 325) gives the Tigers a chance to rest Dorsey without having to worry.
"Al made a lot of strides in the spring, and he's a big, talented guy," Pelini said. "I think he's getting ready to step out into his own and be a star in his own right."
At left end, junior Tyson Jackson (6-5, 292) is expected to be the next in a long line of LSU defensive linemen in the NFL.
"In my opinion, he's as good as there is in college football," Pelini said. "He'll be faced with the same decision Glenn had to make this last year."
Although the Tigers did lose two right ends, they also return three talented possibilities: sophomore Rahim Alem (6-3, 252), junior Tremaine Johnson (6-2, 273) and senior Kirston Pittman (6-4, 260), who returns after missing the past two seasons with injuries.
"When he gets back to full strength, he's going to be another force in there," Pelini said.
Between the talent and experience and the way the LSU coaches give all their defensive linemen equal practice reps throughout the entire season, the Tigers are loaded up front. The only big question is the status of sophomore Ricky Jean-Francois (6-3, 281), who sat out the spring for academic reasons and could be out for the season.
"We're good, we're talented and we have depth," Pelini said. "Now we just need a couple of those young guys to step up. They're ready to go. You can see the way they're growing up in their approach to the game. They understand their time has come. I have a lot of confidence in what our guys up front can accomplish."
As strong as the defensive line is, LSU's linebackers might be better as a whole with the return of all three starters: senior will linebacker Ali Highsmith (6-1, 226), junior middle linebacker Darry Beckwith (6-1, 232) and junior buck linebacker Luke Sanders (6-4, 235).
The Tigers also return all but one experienced linebacker -- career backup Jason Spadoni -- and Pelini has high hopes for young linebackers such as sophomores Perry Riley (6-1, 220) and Jacob Cutrera (6-4, 227) and redshirt freshmen Kelvin Sheppard (6-3, 228) and Derrick Odom (6-2, 202).
"We have some guys who were freshmen last year who are ready to step up and play football for us," Pelini said, "so we feel like we're better at linebacker than we've been since I've been here. We didn't have a lot of numbers at linebacker when we got here, but we've recruited pretty well and we're at the point where we're pretty solid two-deep at linebacker."
LSU's talent and experience at linebacker starts with Highsmith, who has started 24 games at two positions in his LSU career.
"He's another guy who had an opportunity to come out and be a first-day guy in the draft," Pelini said. "He's a talented guy; he's smart; and he's played different spots for us. We've asked him to do a lot and learn a lot, and now he's totally comfortable with what he's doing. He's been good, but he understands how much better he can be, so I think he's going to have a big year for us."
In the middle, "Darry Beckwith is a star in the making," Pelini said, and Sanders brings size and strength to the strong side.
With the return of all three starters, "Those young guys have a chance to grow into their roles," Pelini said.
The Tigers lost two four-year starters when Landry and strong safety Jessie Daniels completed their eligibility, but things could be a lot worse for the secondary.
At strong safety, senior Craig Steltz (6-2, 204) has seen considerable playing time throughout his LSU career and intercepted four passes last season.
"We've always considered him a starter," Pelini said. "He's played a lot of football for us, and we've used him in a number of roles. We play a lot of nickel and dime, so he's been on the field a lot. All you have to do is look at the film from last year to see he was all over the place making play after play.
"His best is yet to come. With LaRon [Landry] gone, you're going to see his leadership qualities show even more. I think he'll have a big, big year for us."
At free safety, the Tigers won't even ask junior Curtis Taylor (6-3, 204) to replace all Landry brought to the team. They just need him to continue to build on a strong spring.
"He has tremendous range, and he's a great athlete," Pelini said. "He didn't play a lot of safety in high school, so it's been a process for him, but he made a lot of progress in the spring. With LaRon being gone, he really stepped into that role and looked like a different guy. He played like he belongs there. He played with a lot of confidence."
Taylor also spent the spring f!ghting off competition from sophomore Danny McCray (6-1, 205), who worked his way into the starting nickelback job.
"Between those guys, we think we're going to be pretty good back there," Pelini said. "Will they be as good as LaRon? No. LaRon was the No. 6 pick in the draft. But I don't think we're going to take a big step back there."
With veteran corners in seniors Chevis Jackson (6-0, 190) and Jonathan Zenon (6-0, 176), the Tigers won't need constant outside help from their safeties. That frees up Steltz, Taylor and McCray for other responsibilities and gives Pelini more options.
"I felt like we could do that last year, and we'll do even more this year," Pelini said. "We put a lot of heat on our corners on times, especially in our pressure packages. Those guys have got to win for us to be good, and they've stepped up to the challenge time after time after time. I think their best is yet to come, and I think they know that."
With Chris Jackson completing his LSU career, senior Patrick Fisher (6-5, 253) emerged from spring as his most likely replacement. A productive spring gives Fisher some momentum entering the summer, but he still must beat out incoming freshmen Andrew Crutchfield and Josh Jasper, who both will be battling for time at punter and place-kicker.
|9 years ago||'05 #71|
$3,898 | 209
Most of the attention on special teams goes to the kicker, punter and returners, but the core of a good kicking game often begins and ends with the linebackers, tight ends and running backs who bring a combination of speed and size to the various units. That's where LSU's loaded roster should pay off.
"Based on our formula for grading the special teams, when we got here we were ranked in the mid-50s [in the nation], maybe as high as 48th," Miles said. "It's a speculative rating, but in our first year in the conference we were ranked third in the nation and in our second year we were about 20th or so."
"Now we graduate a kicker and a punter in Chris Jackson and we have two freshmen coming in to compete for the field goal, punt and kickoff jobs, but we still think our special teams will put us in a position to do what we want to do -- which is win championships. We feel like Early Doucet and Trindon Holliday are tremendous return guys. We think we have enough team speed to cover kicks, and we'll be aggressive enough to go after and block some punts and kicks.
"With all that, I like where we're at in the special teams. I think our special teams will give us a chance to win every week."
The Tigers also return Flynn as the holder on place kicks and senior Jacob O'Hair (6-2, 224) as the deep snapper, leaving one critical position to be filled in the preseason.
"We're still looking at kickoffs right now," Miles said. "We think one of our freshmen might be able to do it, but the new rule is certainly going to change the game. One year when I was at Oklahoma State, we averaged something like 80 percent of our kickoffs in the end zone and not returned. Those days are gone. If anybody averages around 50 percent, that might be a miracle at this point.
"On the other hand, we think that rule is going to work for us in the return game. We'll see some different tactics because some people might choose directional kicks of high kicks. Either way, we think we can make it work for us."
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS
For all the expectations that accompanied the 2006 season, it probably wasn't realistic to expect the Tigers to go undefeated with a schedule that took them on the road to Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas.
This time around, the schedule works in LSU's favor, with Virginia Tech, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina and Arkansas coming to Tiger Stadium.
"We play everybody but the Dallas Cowboys, but at least we play them at home," Miles said. "Each schedule has its own challenges, and our schedule is challenging. I don't think there's a tougher schedule in the country, but the good news is we'll play a lot of our major opponents at home."
The road schedule is much less imposing, with games at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Tulane. Then there's that Nov. 3 game at Alabama against what's his name.
"Yeah, there's some interest in that game," Miles said, laughing. "Ultimately, it really doesn't matter who the coach is over there. The great fortune I have is that I represent Louisiana and LSU, and we're as excited as we can be to play whoever we play wherever we have to play them. But Nov. 3 is certainly a game we'll look forward to playing."
With a favorable schedule, an experienced defense, a senior quarterback and plenty of talented young players who appear ready for more playing time, the Tigers appear to be all set for a run at the SEC and national championships.
Now they just have to play the games.
"There is a good feel to this team," Miles said. "This is a team full of young and fast and capable guys. There will be plenty of competition. I really think that our team will improve."
For the most comprehensive previews available on all 119 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college football, the 2007 Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, at or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).
|9 years ago||'04 #73|
$630 | 0
i got it for ps3 and just got a scholarship to lsu as a fs in campus legend mode....trying to work my way up to that starting position
Last edited by DMay504; 07-24-2007 at 12:43 PM..
|9 years ago||'05 #77|
$3,898 | 209
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) -- Poor LSU. The superstar quarterback, the dangerous receivers and even the offensive coordinator are gone and a one-time starting tailback joined the exodus earlier this week.
Poor LSU? The Tigers were still overwhelming picks to win the Southeastern Conference Friday at the league's media days, easily outdistancing defending national champion Florida.
"We're just as talented as we were last year," All-America defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said.
Seriously? That team included No. 1 overall NFL draft pick JaMarcus Russell at quarterback and three fellow first-rounders, receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis and safety LaRon Landry.
Plus, offensive playcaller Jimbo Fisher left for Florida State, tailback Alley Broussard quit on Tuesday because his "heart was no longer in it" and prized quarterback prospect Ryan Perrilloux's status on the team remains uncertain after an arrest in May.
For some programs, all that might add up to a rebuilding year. The Tigers' biggest issue right now might be dealing with huge expectations after back-to-back 11-win seasons and a Sugar Bowl rout of Notre Dame.
They received 54 of 80 first-place votes from reporters who cover the SEC. Florida got only seven, edging Arkansas (five) and Auburn (four), followed by Alabama (three), South Carolina (three), Tennessee (two) and Georgia (two). The Gators were picked to win the Eastern Division, LSU the West.
"It's not something you can be awarded," coach Les Miles said of the preseason projections. "There's no prediction that's ultimate. That just sells papers.
"The only thing you can do is earn what you get."
Like Florida with Tim Tebow, the Tigers are chasing the title with a new starter at quarterback.
Senior Matt Flynn is set to replace Russell but has only one career start, when he led LSU to a win in the 2005 Peach Bowl.
"He's our No. 1 guy, hands down," receiver Early Doucet said.
His chief competition's status is in doubt. Perrilloux, the 2004 USA Today national offensive player of the year, was arrested for trying to use his older brother's driver's license to get on a riverboat casino in Baton Rouge.
Miles said he would make a decision on the 20-year-old sophomore's status before preseason practice starts next week.
"Ryan is currently suspended from the team and we'll look at this matter in the next week and make a decision," Miles said.
Flynn is hardly a rookie, having seen action in 38 games. Miles said that should make the transition easier.
"Any time you have a quarterback in his first season as a starter, there will be some period of adjustment," Miles said. "I think it will be minimal with Matt Flynn.
"Matt Flynn is a guy who is really deserving, really has competed for the opportunity to play against a quality quarterback in JaMarcus Russell, and now it's his turn."
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was in a similar position once after Peyton Manning left for the NFL. Tee Martin had waited for his turn, and wound up leading the Volunteers to the national title in 1998.
"We didn't really ask a lot outside of what Tee Martin was capable of doing from a physical standpoint early in the season," Fulmer said.
He doesn't have that problem this season with senior Erik Ainge, who set a school completion percentage mark last season. The Volunteers were picked to finish second in the East.
The Tigers, meanwhile, return eight starters from the nation's top defense, led by Dorsey and preseason All-SEC picks linebacker Ali Highsmith and defensive back Chevis Jackson.
"We've got a lot of young guys ready to come up and play big-time football," Dorsey said.