Monday, August 09, 2010

Les Miles is Sitting on a Loaded Pistol

College football will be upon us in less than a month and like any other year predictions are abundant. We all think we know how our team is going to do because of x, y and z. We feel our opinion is worth listening to because of our involvement in alumni relations, high school football or just because we have been watching football for most our lives. The story is always the same. So without further ado I thought I would give my breakdown on the 2010 LSU Tigers football team. After all why would you not want to listen to my insightful predictions for the upcoming season?

For the first three years at LSU Les Miles was on cloud nine. He won a national championship and compiled an impressive 34-6 record that included going 19-5 in the SEC. But in the past two seasons that record has dipped to a disappointing 17-9, including 8-8 in the SEC. How did it get so bad so fast in Baton Rouge for Les Miles? And why should there be hope for the Tigers this coming year?

Whatever improvements LSU made in 2009 from 2008 (an improved defense), there was equally as many setbacks (lack of an offense). The question is does LSU have the mindset and skills to improve and avoid another season of disappointment? The answer is yes and here are the main reasons.


For the past however many months the national media has taken turns either a) ragging on Les Miles b) criticizing Jordan Jefferson's potential or c) highlighting why LSU can not sniff Alabama's jock strap. (Do not get me wrong last year I spent a lot of time yelling at Miles and Jefferson.) These criticisms on the football program have in turn lit a fire under Les Miles and the LSU football team. When your program is nationally dissed (4th in the SEC West at the SEC Media Day) a team comes together. It has happened to LSU teams in the past. Add in the fact that Les Miles has his back against the wall and I have to believe things will turn around. There's a reason he won 34 games in his first three seasons. Sure he had "Saban's players," but he still won 34 games. Look at Miami Florida. Randy Shannon has a heck of a lot of talent, but his teams have really never done much. Bottom line: Miles was a winner in the beginning. That was not a fluke. He needs to find that magic he use to show on the sidelines.


Since Ryan Perrilloux's debacle LSU has not had a strong quarterback behind center. Far too often inexperience has gotten the best of the LSU quarterback. Despite Jordan Jefferson's shortcomings in 2009 (held on to the ball too long and accuracy issues) he still showed moments of promise. Say what you want about the guy he still finished with a respectable 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Add in the fact that he was the 5th most efficient passer in the SEC you can see why I truly believe he will drastically improve this year. Jefferson was one of the youngest quarterbacks to be starting in SEC history. When Russell and Flynn came to LSU they were not thrown onto the field. They had time to slowly understand the offense and better yet go on the field when they were ready. Jefferson did not have this and I feel like this is all too commonly overlooked. With a year under his belt I feel LSU's offense will be much more in sync because of Jefferson's maturity and the emergence of a much better offensive line.


In 2009 the LSU offensive line was surprisingly one of the worst in the SEC. Better yet, it cemented an LSU offense that ranked 107th nationally. This is the biggest question mark and the biggest thing I am most concerned with. Last year's offensive line for the majority of the season stunk. It never got into a groove so two things suffered immensely: first, with no offensive line there is no run game. Meaning LSU fans got very familiar with 2nd and 9s instead of 2nd and 4s. That's crucial when you really break that down. With a young quarterback, whether or not it will be a scoring drive starts with progress on first down. And more times than not on first down for LSU in 2009 they ran the ball. And more times than not LSU did a poor job moving the ball. Secondly, with a poor offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback you are probably going to have a) a quarterback on the run a lot and b) an inept offense that struggled the majority of the season. Both of these were true. This aspect can not be overlooked. Even a slightly improved Jefferson and a more in sync offensive line will greatly benefit the LSU offense. I am confident in both.


Former Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales is one of brightest spots this past offseason for the Tigers. Gonzales is widely known for the successes he had with utilizing Percy Harvin. I think what excites me the most is how LSU has a player of equal mold to Harvin - Russell Shepard. Shepard is a serious threat every time he steps on the field. The spring game for the Tigers was not the greatest showcase of LSU's potential, but the one bright spot for Shepard's ability to consistently get open. Add in the fact LSU has Reuben Randle and Terrence Toliver and you can see why I expect to see great improvement from the wide receivers group. Gonzales is one of the best in the business at getting his players to maximize their potential meaning the three-headed monster of Shepard, Randle and Tolliver should cause havoc for any team in the SEC.


Patrick Peterson is not a human. He is not a normal person like you or me. Patrick Peterson is a freak. He origins are as mysterious as Captain America or Superman. Peterson is 6'1" 222 pounds. Take that in for second. LSU has a cornerback that is 222 pounds and he has not lost any speed. Like I said he is a freak. (Just to give you an idea Darrelle Revis is 5'11" 198 pounds.) Some people have suggested moving him to safety. My question - why? With Peterson being the shutdown corner he is that's one less side of the field LSU has to worry about, better yet if gives them options. The other corner is Morris "Mo" Claiborne. Claiborne has been having an impressive camp. With two shutdown corners LSU will be able to blitz that much more and that makes all the difference. One of the issues with LSU's defense last year was the struggles LSU's cornerbacks (other than Peterson) had throughout the season. One of the glaring problems was how LSU gave up big 3rd downs. Having one superb cornerback and another up and coming cornerback gives Chavis options on third downs.


The offensive line stunk last year and the defensive line stunk. I would go as far as to say the defensive line was worse. It's like dominoes when you really put together LSU's 2009 problems. Without an effective pass rush the run defense was lousy therefore the rest of the defense had to play that much better. (Now keep in mind LSU's defense was not terrible last year, but they were not spectacular. Still improvements need to be made. These are the hopeful solutions.) Of all the young players getting on the field this season, I am most excited about the defensive line. There's Sam Montgomery, Chris Davenport and Josh Downs to name a few. Add in senior Drake Nevis and there's reason to believe this unit can rebound.

Playing the underdog role, Jefferson's quarterback growth, a revamped offensive line, Billy Gonzales's impact, Peterson Island and Mo and a back to basics defensive line are the six reasons I am optimistic about LSU's 2010 season. Now believe me I'm well aware of the past struggles and I am well aware of the uneasiness about LSU football this season. I know things could get worse for LSU in a hurry, but I look at Miles and I look at Jefferson and I think had LSU won that game against Ole Miss or Penn State, just one more game, all the talk would of been how Miles got his 4th season of at least 10 wins. Now granted things did get bad last season, but it's interesting to note how drastically things switch. If there is one thing that has the biggest impact on the LSU's season I think, no question, it would have to be Jordan Jefferson's maturity. How that guy changed his game this offseason will be directly correlated with LSU's final record. (By the way I read Jefferson watched highlights of every single play he was involved in last year. He took notes on what he did wrong. And at SEC Media Day one of the most impressive things spectators commented on was the maturity of Jordan Jefferson. Whether or not a good interview translates into a good quarterback remains to be seen.)

I think after seeing Les Miles's most recent press conference where the Mad Hatter was displaying a childish grin I have to agree with my dad. Les Miles is seating on a loaded pistol and no one knows it.

Geaux Tigers!


Here is my call. I am sick of thinking I will jinx the team. The Saints won the Super Bowl so the word jinx is dead...I think.

North Carolina

This is the first game of the season meaning the team will be rusty. I am willing to bet that 95% of my age group is going to be cursing the TV if LSU does not score within 38 seconds into the game. This will be mostly a defensive game. North Carolina has a good defense, so does LSU. The biggest factor in this game will be LSU's ability to neutralize UNC's amazing defensive line. Look for the Tigers to pull out a close one.

LSU 19-17

@ Vanderbilt

The Tigers will travel to Vanderbilt to take on a Commodore team that just lost their head coach about a month ago. Vandy will be down this year despite returning quarterback Larry Smith. The LSU run game will be pivotal in this game. I think Michael Ford and Richard Murphy propel LSU to blow up this game.

LSU 27-7

Mississippi State

Last year the Bulldogs really thought they had LSU. Unfortunately they could not get six inches. What a shame. 2010's game will not be a blowout. I do not expect LSU to struggle in their home opener. It will be a close game at the half, but the second half the Tigers put on the after burners. Jefferson and Shepard cause havoc while The Freak bulldozes a quarterback.

LSU 31-14

West Virginia

It's been a while since some Tiger Stadium magic has taken place. WV comes ready to play and jumps on LSU. Jefferson plays a terrific game. LSU's defense struggles against Noel Devine. WV has a fourth quarter lead, but Jefferson leads the Tigers back for a thrilling victory.

LSU 34-30


A week after a dramatic win against the Mountaineers, LSU gets jumped on by a struggling Vols team. Tigers defense makes some key second half stops that swings the momentum. Shepard is again a huge factor and a nightmare for defenses.

LSU 27-21


The Swamp has not been kind to LSU in recent years, unfortunately I do not see that changing. For the third week in a row LSU finds itself in a hole, but the Tigers are unable to shake a 14-0 deficit. The offensive line struggles in the trenches against the Gators. Also, the run game does not get going and Jefferson has to lead the team to victory on his own. Not the Tigers day.

Florida 34-16

McNeese State

LSU demolishes yet another Louisiana team.

LSU 44-14


LSU travels to Hell to play the Auburn Tigers. Game comes down to the four quarter where Auburn scores a late touchdown to crush LSU's dreams. Tigers play very well in defeat.

Auburn 24-21


The entire state of Louisiana eagerly awaits for the Game of the Year. Les Miles and his crew do push ups in broken glass to get pumped for the game. Unlike 2008, Bama's last time in Tiger Stadium, LSU does not have a pick-six quarterback leading the team. Jefferson gets LSU out to a fast start. Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle cause trouble for Alabama all afternoon. Alabama makes a fourth quarter rally only to be denied by Chavis's defense. Score one for the good guys!

LSU 28-23


Like I said, another Louisiana blowout. Yawn.

LSU 35-7

Ole Miss

LSU redeems themselves after back-to-back years of falling to the Rebels. The running game allows LSU's play action to get a couple scores. Even Masoli can not rally the Rebels after an impressive third quarter showing by the Tigers.

LSU 31-19


The Razorbacks get redemption after last year's dramatic overtime loss. LSU defense fails to make a key stop towards the end of the game. Jefferson has a solid performance, Peterson has a great game, but is not enough to rally the Tigers.

Arkansas 28-20

Final call: 9-3

Even with only a one game improvement from 2009 I still think LSU makes great strides in 2010.

No comments: