LSU will kickoff its 2012 football season- opener regularly as scheduled Saturday night against North Texas despite the recent disturbance that was Hurricane Isaac. It is the first time since 2006 that LSU will open its season in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.
The Mean Green of North Texas hail from the Sun Belt Conference and finished with a 5 – 7 record last season. They were not very good offensively, ranking 96th overall in the country in offensive yards per game with 341.8. Defense was a struggle for North Texas as well last season, ranking 97th in the country in yards per game allowed with 429.3.
North Texas will be without its best player from last year, running back Lance Dunbar, who was lost to graduation. Dunbar led the Mean Green in rushing yards and touchdowns and was third on the team in receptions. It is expected that Brandin Byrd, who only had 20 carries last season, will be the featured back for the North Texas offense Saturday night.
With the loss of Dunbar, the North Texas offense will rely more heavily on the experience they have at the quarterback position. Derek Thompson will return as the signal caller for the Mean Green after throwing for 1,902 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions last season
Thompson will have his top two WR targets from back this year with him. Brelan Chancellor and Christopher Bynes each caught 37 passes for over 400 yards last year and a combined 8 touchdowns. Chancellor will also serve as the Mean Green’s punt and kickoff returner.
For LSU, the game features the highly anticipated debut of Zach Mettenberger as the team’s starting quarterback. Mettenberger, a redshirt junior quarterback, will be expected to provide more of a balanced offensive attack with an improved passing game that will hopefully lead the Tiger’s back to Atlanta in December for the SEC Championship Game and potentially another berth in the BCS National Championship Game.
Junior running back Michael Ford will be in uniform and will play Saturday night according to head coach Les Miles. Ford was appealing an unspecified academic situation that placed his football season at LSU in jeopardy. The Tigers have yet to be given word on whether or not linebacker Tahj Jones, who faces a similar academic appeal situation, will be eligible to play Saturday night. If Jones is unable to play, the expectation is that junior linebacker Luke Muncie will start in his place.
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