Chance of Rebuilding? … NEVER!


Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The amount of talent LSU lost to the NFL was enough for most teams to deem the next season a rebuilding year. LSU witnessed seven players from the defensive side of the ball drafted last year, five of which were selected in the first three rounds. The Tigers also lost an explosive wide receiver in Russell Shepard, two key running backs in Spencer Ware and Zach Ford, and former All-American punter Brad Wing. However, to call the 2013 season a rebuilding year is absolutely preposterous. LSU has their eyes set on winning the SEC West, the gateway to the national championship. A team from the SEC West has won the National Championship five of the last six seasons.

The defense, which is elite year in and out, will be anchored by hard-hitting safety Craig Loston, Anthony “The Freak” Johnson, and coveted number 18 recipient, Lamin Barrow. Loston received All-SEC Second Team honors last year and is on the 2013 Preseason All-SEC list. The Freak, at 295 pounds, runs a 4.7 40-yard dash. He will have plenty of opportunity to display his freakish athleticism since LSU lost four key defensive linemen from last year. Lamin Barrow is the Tiger’s top returning tackler. Barrow will be wearing number 18, given to the team leader who represents what it means to be a LSU football player.

On the offensive side of the ball, Zach Mettenburger has a year of starting experience under his belt. If Mettenburger has a good season, the LSU offense could be extremely dangerous, due in large part to the explosive and talented group of receivers returning. The receivers are led by Kadron Boone, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr. All of which have enormous big play potential. As expected, the running game will be completely dominant yet again. The Tigers would have a great running attack even without sophomore running back Jeremy Hill, who was recently reinstated via team vote. With Hill, the running game will be even more lethal. As a freshman he led the team with 755 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Hill will be joined by power back Kenny Hilliard, exceptionally talented Terrence Magee, and dominant back Alfred Blue. Blue was limited to two games last year due to injury. However, he did manage 224 yards and a touchdown in the two games he participated in.

LSU is typically solid in the special teams department and 2013 will be no exception. Jamie Keehn will take over the punting duties. Keehn averaged 44.6 yards a punt on 9 punts in the bowl game against Clemson. James Harriston will most likely replace graduated place kicker Drew Alleman. Harriston has been the kickoff taker for the past two years. He has a powerful leg but will need to improve his accuracy before the season commences. Odell Beckam Jr. will be a treat to watch in the special teams. Last year he returned 35 punts with an average of 9.1 yards a return and two touchdowns. Beckam displayed how electrifying he can be with a jaw dropping 89 yard punt return for a touchdown that helped LSU take down Ole Miss.

The coaching staff is full of top notch coaches that will give the Tigers an advantage against the majority of their opponents. First year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Cam Cameron, has the potential to be what LSU fans have been praying for, a solution to their offense. Cameron has 29 years of coaching experience, 14 years in the NFL and 15 at the collegiate level. He has spent the past five years as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, helping to mold Joe Flacco into the elite quarterback he is today. John Chavis is arguably the best defensive coordinator in all of college football. The winner of the 2011 Broyles National Assistant Coach of the year, Chavis has produced five first round draft picks from the defensive side of the ball in his four years at LSU. Head coach Les Miles receives plenty of criticism for his poor clock management and controversial play call. However, one thing can not be disputed. Miles wins football games. He has 85 wins in his 8 seasons with the Tigers, more than any other SEC school in that span. Miles has finished in the top ten in five of his eight years with the Tigers. While The Mad Hatter may be unconventional, he is an unconventional winner.

LSU has all the tools needed to make a run at the SEC West crown. However, this is the SEC West, undoubtedly the best division in all of college football. LSU must withstand a daunting schedule and finish above powerhouses Alabama and Texas A&M. The Tigers first real SEC test comes on the road against Georgia. Georgia is returning ten offensive starters from their 11th ranked offense last year. Two weeks after the Georgia contest, LSU gets a revenge match with Florida. Florida has a talented team but with the loss of running back Mike Gillislee, tight end Jordan Reed, and star safety Matt Elam, the Tigers should prevail. Next LSU faces Ole Miss who returns key players, and were blessed by a great recruiting year. In the two games before finishing the season with lowly Arkansas, LSU will face the two teams that are most likely to be competing with LSU for the SEC West’s top spot.

Texas A&M was the surprise team of the SEC last year finishing the season 11-2. The Aggies were the only team to defeat National Champion, Alabama. The Aggie offense should be strong this year with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel at the reins. Jake Matthews should be a solid replacement for Luke Joeckel at left tackle. Mike Evans is a dynamic receiver, but the pressure is on as he is forced to pick up the slack for the graduated star Ryan Swope. Brandon Williams is back and ready to prove himself after sitting out all of 2012 because of the transfer rule. Texas A&M also lost star defensive end Damontre Moore and key linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathon Stewart. With the negative press constantly surrounding quarterback Johnny Football, I predict it to be a down year for both him and Aggie football.

Alabama the two time defending national champions will be the biggest obstacle for LSU to overcome, if they want to win the SEC West. Alabama is loaded as always. TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper are two offensive players for the Tide with the potential to dominate every time they touch the turf. Also back is arguably the top contributor to last year’s national championship team, quarterback AJ McCarron. Last season McCarron broke a school record with thirty touchdown passes while only throwing three interceptions. LSU’s emotions will be at an all time high after last year’s heart breaking loss. However, with the game on the road, Bama may prove to be a little too much.

Final Prediction: LSU loses another close game to Alabama and finishes with a 11-1 record and a trip to a BCS bowl game.