SEC Preview 2014: Can Leonard Fournette and LSU’s young talent bring them unexpected glory?
Stop if you’ve heard this before: LSU was ravaged by NFL Draft in 2013, and was ravaged by the NFL Draft in 2014. Les Miles lost NINE players for the 2013 season to the NFL Draft, and lost a further NINE to the 2014 Draft. And there were others who left for the NFL Draft and didn’t find a suitor because they had such an overrated and crappy 2013 (we see you, Anthony ‘The Freak’ Johnson!). Anyway, Les Miles has had to reload yet again. So what’s going to happen in 2014? Probably something crazy.
With your head coach being bats*** crazy (remember, this was a guy who let his TEAM vote on whether they wanted to keep their douchebag running back Jeremy Hill after he was arrested and filmed giving a terrible blindside to a guy outside a bar) and your team being ravaged like [we’ll let you add your own college anecdotes to make up this simile] by the NFL Draft, it was always apparently to us that LSU needed a heck of a lot of fortune to compete for a 2013 SEC title. Well, they finished with a 10-3 record, helped by a not-too-difficult schedule, with the win over Auburn the best of the lot, bearing in mind what happened to the OTHER Tigers at the end of the season. The 3 losses? The game at Georgia was AMAZING, the loss at Ole Miss was awful (and if you ask my LSU buddy Dave which loss he was most pissed about, it was this one), and at Alabama the Tigers simply didn’t show up. The 7-point bowl victory over Iowa was….m’eh.
OK, it’s not even August, so there’s still time. But up to now, LSU only had one arrest – CB Jalen Mills – for felony battery of a woman. And Mills is super-pissed about it, because he insists it was his buddy who punched the girl, not him. Anyway, this one’s up to the DA.
Otherwise, we haven’t heard a lot from LSU players, apart from former QB Zach Mettenberger getting slugged in a bar by a couple of Alabama fans, and Les Miles being awesome at SEC Media Days. Because, you know, he’s Les Miles.
LSU went out there and got the No.1 player in the nation in RB Leonard Fournette, who the guys at the great Solid Verbal podcast are ALREADY comparing to Bo Jackson. They also got five-stars WR Malachi Dupre, OLB Clifton Garrett, S Jamai Adams. 4-star dual-threat QB Brandon Harris is already talked about as being in with a shout of the starting job this season, t00. Anyway, Les brought in the No.2 recruiting class in the nation.
BIGGEST THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS, AND MUSINGS ON THE 2014 LSU TIGERS
THE QB BATTLE: ANYONE KNOW WHO’S GOING TO GET THE JOB?
Now Zach Mettenberger’s gone (he didn’t even finish the season, and his replacement Anthony Jennings really struggled to fill his role), and there doesn’t seem to be a bona fide replacement in purple and gold. Some people are saying it’s Harris’ job after some sparkling practices. Despite a lot of jawing, Jennings is 2-0 as a starter, but he’s really impressed. Brad Kragthorpe is the junior. Cam Cameron’s a great offensive co-ordinator, so he’s got this one in hand….but we think he’ll give it to Harris.
IS LEONARD FOURNETTE JESUS?
The way people have been talking up Leonard Fournette, we’re kinda expecting the second coming of Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson, Ricky Williams, Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker…rolled into one. So no pressure, then. Already people are saying that he could break Kevin Faulk’s rushing record. He’s 6-1, 225lb and runs a 4.35 40 (as Dennis Dodds says: “Like a bullet”). He’s already talking about his goals as being Heisman, All-American, and National Championship. And how about walking on water? There are other RBs in LSU’s stable, folks. Seniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee will share the ball with him. This is going to be a fun 3 years.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: EXPERIENCE WILL BE KEY….
The Tigers return 4 returning starters including LT La’el Collins, RG Vadal Alexander, C Elliott Porter, and SO Jerald Hawkins. JUCO transfer Hoko Fanaika is favored come in. It’s a pretty good task for the O-Line. Open the holes, let Fournette run through, stop the QB getting killed. And they were pretty good at it last year, giving up only 25 sacks in 13 games. And yes, we know they were beaten to death by ‘Bama’s pass rush.
WHILE AT RECEIVER…THERE’S NO EXPERIENCE
There’s virtually no experience. Now that Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have gone to the NFL, Death Valley’s receiving corps is really inexperienced. Travin Dural and Quantavius Leslie only had EIGHT receptions between them last year. They will need Dupre or other frosh Trey Quinn to step up. Otherwise, teams will just block the running backs, and LSU will be inept on offense.
HOW’S THE DEFENSE LOOKING?
LSU was 15th in the nation in yards given up last year, 21st in scores allowed, 13th in TDs, 36th in rushing D, and 13th in passing D. They were pretty good, yet LSU fans felt that they regressed. Maybe that’s because they gave up 5.7 yards per game in SEC games, ‘good’ for 7th in the conference. After losing Johnson and Ego Ferguson to the NFL, people are predicting the tackle jobs will be taken up by Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas. The DEs returning will be starters Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco. At LB, insiders are pretty excited about Kwon Alexander after his storming bowl performance, where he had four solo tackles – one of his best performances of the season. 5-star recruit Clifton Garrett is expected to start immediately, too.
Oh, and in the secondary? If he stays away from trouble (and the DA doesn’t slap him with the charge), Mills should start at either cornerback or safety. He’s going to be good in either spot. We’ll also see Rashard Robinson and Tre’Davious White get some time, and 6-1, 190lb, 4-star Texan recruit Edward Paris could well start immediately if he impresses in practice.
In total, LSU brings back 7 defensive starters. But will they have the playmakers to make a SEC West run?
SCHEDULE: NOT GOING TO BE EASY
Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin, Houston, Texas
Sept. 6 Sam Houston State
Sept. 13 Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 20 Mississippi State
Sept. 27 New Mexico State
Oct. 4 at Auburn
Oct. 11 at Florida
Oct. 18 Kentucky
Oct. 25 Ole Miss
Nov. 1 Open
Nov. 8 Alabama
Nov. 15 at Arkansas
Nov. 22 Open
Nov. 27 at Texas A&M, College Station, Texas
We’ll see how good LSU is at stopping people when they face Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon in Week 1 in Houston in a game we’d all rather see a home-and-home match-up. We think LSU goes 1-0. They then go to 5-0 after battling the heck out of Mississippi State. They then lose at Auburn, squeak by Florida in The Swamp, beat Kentucky, lose at home to Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze’s super-fast offense in a stunner, beat Alabama in a monster upset, beat Arkansas, and struggle with Texas A&M…but win. That gives Les Miles a 10-2 record, but no SEC Championship game spot. That’s because Alabama only loses 1 game in-conference.
Tagged with: Alabama • Arkansas • Auburn • Death Valley • Florida • Geaux Tigers • Georgia • Kentucky • Leonard Fournette • Les Miles • LSU • Malachi Dupre • Mississippi State • Missouri • Ole Miss • Predictions • SEC • SEC East • SEC West • South Carolina • Tennessee • Texas A&M • Tigers • Vanderbilt
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