2011 NCAA College Football Wagering Odds: LSU Tigers Preview
Friday, August 19, 2011
by Aengus Moorehead
Vs SEC West: 3-2
Vs Top 25: 5-2
It’s amazing what one year can do for a coach’s reputation and approval among his fan base. Heading into 2010, many thought Les Miles was heading out the door if he didn’t pick things up in Baton Rouge. Even after a narrow escape in the opener against a suspension-depleted North Carolina team, many thought the 2010 season would put the nails in the coffin of Miles’s tenure at LSU. Instead, Miles put together a stunning 11-win season that included heart-stopping wins over Tennessee and Florida plus dominant efforts against Alabama and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Now fielding a team with another bumper crop of recruits and 15 starters from last season, Miles has his team primed for another run at an SEC and national championships.
It’s hard to believe, but coming into the Cotton Bowl LSU Tigers had thrown just four touchdown passes the entire season. A complete lack of production through the air led Miles to finally part ways with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and bring in former Tulsa and Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe. The objective is simple for Kragthorpe: get production from Jordan Jefferson and the passing game. How he will accomplish that remains to be seen. The coaching staff hedged its bets on Jefferson and the passing game by bringing in highly touted transfer Zach Mettenberger to compete for the job as insurance in case Jefferson continues to struggle.
Even with the emphasis on an improved passing game, LSU will still be a run-oriented, physical offense. The Bengal Tigers can do that because tailback Spencer Ware returns after a breakout performance against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, when he rushed for over 100 yards on just 10 carries. With the departure of Stevan Ridley, Ware will be the go-to guy at tailback and looked poised to do the job just fine in the spring. Ware will have the luxury of running behind an offensive line that returns four of five starters and is comprised entirely of juniors and seniors. The passing game will get highlights on television, but Kragthorpe and Miles both know that the Tigers’ bread and butter will be a downhill rushing attack that dominates the line of scrimmage.
The calling card of any Miles-coached LSU team is a defense loaded with enormous and athletic defensive linemen. That will not change in 2011. Despite the loss of Drake Nevis at defensive tackle, there’s still plenty of talent up front. Kendrick Adams, Barkevious Mingo, and Sam Montgomery are all standout pass rushers at ends and will be joined by blue chip end Jermauria Rasco, one of the nation’s best pass rushing prospects out of high school. Josh Downs and Michael Brockers won’t make anyone forget Glen Dorsey at defensive tackle, but they’ll hold up just fine. It will be hard to keep freshman Anthony Johnson out of the tackle rotation. At 6-4 and 300 pounds, Johnson was one of the nation’s highest rated defensive tackle prospects.
The loss of Patrick Peterson will weigh heavily on the Tigers’ secondary; his presence and skill as a cover corner often allowed LSU to put him on the opponent’s best receiver and call it a day. Morris Claiborne returns at the other corner slot while Tyrann Matthieu has the unenviable task of trying to replace Peterson. Strong safety Brandon Tyler returns, but the free safety position remains open heading into fall camp. If serviceable players are found then the secondary should be excellent again.
Give Miles and LSU credit - they do not take it easy in scheduling out of conference opponents. The Tigers open with national runner-up Oregon in Dallas on September 3. Two weeks later they travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State and then travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia and its new Dana Holgorsen-led pass-happy offense. Florida visits Baton Rouge in October. November features games at Alabama and Ole Miss and at home against Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a schedule worthy of a berth in the national championship game should the Tigers finish unscathed.
LSU Tigers 2011 - 2012 Schedules
|09/10/2011||vs Northwestern Stat|
|09/15/2011||at Mississippi State|
|09/24/2011||at West Virginia|
|11/12/2011||vs Western Kentucky|
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