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August 5, 2010

Will LSU Face the Same Level of Competition this Year?

Some of you had to read this because your first reaction was either:  1. "This is going to be a quick read. How long can it take to say yes? or 2. "I have to read this one. How in the world is this guy going to make a case for LSU not having the same level of competition this year?".  Honestly, my best guess is: of course LSU's competition is going to be as good as or better than last year.  But just for kicks let's play the other side of the argument.  To make this argument I am going to use's end of the year player power rankings.  

According to player power rankings, in 2009 LSU faced just over 40 players that were ranked in the top 25 at their positions.  In 2010 there are only 15 players, less than half, who ranked in the top 25 at their positions.  Last year LSU faced 5 quarterbacks, 5 running backs, 5 receivers, 7 tight ends, 5 defensive linemen, 5 linebackers, 3 offensive linemen, 2 defensive backs, and 4 special teams players all ending the season in the top 25.  In 2010 LSU will face 3 quarterbacks, 2 players from each position - running backs/receivers/tight ends/defensive backs/defensive linemen, 1 linebacker and 1 offensive lineman that finished in the top 25 at their positions last year.  Naturally, some players that were playing behind players on the list will step up and perform at the same level as their predecessors.  Since those replacing these top 25 list players did not play last year, it is impossible to predict who or how many will step up and play as well.  Let's dispense with the statistics and take a look at who is missing from LSU's opponents top players.

Washington, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, and Penn State all had players ranked in Rival's top 25 at the end of the season.  Washington (3), Georgia (5), Louisiana Tech (1), and Penn State (7) included 16 of the top 25 players that LSU will not face this year simply by not having any of these teams scheduled.  It is possible that LSU could face Georgia in the SEC championship or even face one of the other teams in a bowl game but those are factors that are remote enough to ignore.  

Last year LSU had six players finish in Rivals end of the season top 25.  Brandon LaFell (#16WR), Ciron Black (#25 OL/T), Chad Jones (#25 DB/S), and Trindon Holiday (#23 Special Teams) will all be missed and I wish Chad Jones a speedy recovery.  Patrick Peterson (#18DB/CB) and Kelvin Shepard (#25LB) will anchor LSU's defensive backfield this year.

Let's look at teams that LSU is scheduled to play in 2010 and see which teams have the top players:

North Carolina:
North Carolina had four players finish on Rivals top 25 lists at the end of the season last year.
UNC loses the number 12 tight end in the country, Zack Pianalto.  Returning to play for UNC this year are Robert Quinn (#23 DL/DE), Quan Sturdivant (#23 LB/OLB), and Kendric Burney (#21 DB/CB).  Both Robert Quin and Quan Sturdivant dropped in Rivals final power ranking last year because of poor performances in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in a loss to Pittsburgh.  I bet LSU's coaches are taking a close look at how Pitt managed to block these guys.

Vanderbilt returns Brandon Barden, the Rivals end of the season #18 tight end.

Mississippi State:
The only Mississippi State player to finish in the Rivals top 25 power rankings was running back Anthony Dixon. He is not playing for Miss. State this year.  I don't think LSU fans are going to miss Dixon this year.

West Virginia:
West Virginia returns one outstanding running back, Noel Devine, who was ranked 11th at his position at the end of last year.

LSU will not see Tennessee's 13th ranked running back, Montario Hardesty, 21st ranked linebacker, Rico McCoy, or Eric Berry who was ranked number 1 among defensive backs at the end of last season.  Ranked players on Tennessee's squad this year include: Dan Williams (#17DL/DT) and Luke Stocker (#19TE).

Florida had 8 players finish in the top 25 at their positions last year and not one is returning to play this year.  The top notch players that will not be lining up against LSU this year: Tim Tebow (#2QB), Riley Cooper (#24WR), Aaron Hernandez (#1TE), Maurkice Pouncey (#7OL), Carlos Dunlap (#15DL/DE), Brandon Spikes (#5LB), Joe Haden (#3DB/CB), and Brandon James (#12 Special Teams).  I know Florida is packed with talent to step in the gap left by these outstanding players but, with this kind of turnover, LSU may have a better shot this year against Florida.  Remember last year, Riley Cooper's touchdown was huge against LSU in Florida's 13-3 victory. 

McNeese State: None

Only one player, Darvin Adams (#21WR), returning to Auburn finished in a Rivals' top 25 end of the season power ranking.  Auburn has lost three players from this elite list: Antonio Coleman (#19DL/DE), Walter McFadden (#20DB), and Ben Tate (#17RB).  All three of those players should be extremely hard to replace but, the experts are predicting an up year for Auburn.

Alabama, like Florida, is one of those schools that is attracting outstanding athletes to fill the gaps left by departing players.  On defense, Mark Barron returns. Barron, a safety, finished #19 among all college defensive backs.  Alabama's losses on defense loom extremely large.  Bama will lose Terrence "Mount" Cody who finished 6th among defensive linemen, Rolando McClain, the #1 linebacker last year, and Javier Arenas the #7 defensive back and 
#2 special teams player.  Alabama also loses kicker Leigh Tiffin, who ranked #18 among special teams players.  On offense Alabama has four top 25 players returning: quarterback Greg McElroy who finished #21 among college quarterbacks, Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram who (according to Rivals' power rankings) finished #2 among college running backs, Julio Jones who finished #17 among college receivers and William Vlachos, last year's 23rd ranked offensive lineman, will play center.  Two key losses from the Alabama offense are Mike Johnson, the #2 offensive lineman at the end of the year and Colin Peek, the 24th ranked tight end.

ULM: None

Ole Miss:
Jeremiah Masoli who last year finished ranked 10th among quarterbacks while playing for the University of Oregon has recently enrolled as a graduate student at Ole Miss, has a year of eligibility left, and has walked on to the football team.  Masoli actually dropped to number 10 in the final power ranking because of a poor performance in the Rose Bowl. Masoli managed to pass for only 81 yards and rushed for 9 yards in his final game as a Oregon Duck.  

Missing from the Ole Miss roster this year will be 6th ranked running back Dexter McCluster and 14th ranked wide receiver Shay Hodge.

Two razorbacks finished in Rivals end of the season top 25 position power rankings:  Ryan Mallett and D.J. Williams.  Mallett, who finished ranked 14th among quarterbacks, will be returning.  Williams, who finished 9th among tight ends, will not be returning.

In conclusion, it is easy for LSU fans to focus on the Tigers and worry about the new players that are expected to step up and fill the gaps left by our departing outstanding players.  Just like LSU, almost every good team that LSU plays in 2010 has lost some really outstanding players. And those teams have some outstanding players that LSU will face.  Based on the end of the year Rivals position power ranking, it would appear that LSU will not have to face quite as many outstanding players in 2010.  But you never know which players will step up and great individual players do not necessarily add up to a great team.   


Anonymous said...

Yes LSU can lose (7) games, or even 8, if you include Tennessee, in the might lose column.
5-7 would be a death blow to Les Miles.
We will know every thing we need to know, after seeing the first game against North Carolina, in Atalanta.

Anonymous said...

I have not liked, Les Miles, from the start.First game with Tennessee that LSU was winning at the half 21-0,only to come out flat, and lose the game,and I blamed Miles half time interview,for the way the LSU team was feeling after hearing what he said...After all the Louisiana people went threw, from Hurricane Katrina, Les Miles had the nerve to call the LSU football team sloppy.
I though he was Dumb, and embarrassing..Nothing has change,I hope that LSU hire another coach, one day.

Anonymous said...

Florida and Alabama lost big time on DEFENSE. That's great news!

Anonymous said...

Mountain Man Cody and Rolondo McClain and Javier Arenas are not at Alabama this year?! Bob, you just made my day. I hadnt realize that

LesistheBest! said...

No way are Bama and UF #1 and #3 with the loss of these player. Some of these players are irreplaceable. LSU is going to have a good chance against both of these teams.
Go Tigers!

BayouBabe said...

It is all comin together - UNC and West Virg being distracted by NCAA investigations - Bama and UF losing key plaayers - LSUs #1 recruiting class getting in the game regularly.

Anonymous said...

Les Miles is a Bo Schembechier Hologram,But the trouble with Holograms, They are not real.
LSU is stuck, until the school does something about it.

Anonymous said...

Did you see all that talent, at WR,my goodness, those guys look like good football players..If the LSU QB can get the football into the WR hands, I think we have something good going on.
Nothing wrong with the RB ether.

Anonymous said...

I saw on Jim Kleinpeter's video where he remarked that the wide receivers looked strong.

Anonymous said...

So the big news is Bama and UF had players finish their eligibility? So, what, Bama and UF are now recruiting what, bad players so its going to be all better? Who found Cody in the first place. Heres a hint, its the guy who when he was at LSU decided not to waste a scholarship on Perriloux.

For the 'fan' out there. You want LSU to get better. You dont go around wishing other teams to get worse. It makes you as fans look cheap, and diminishes the caliber of the victories that are achieved.

Les is what we have, and like Obama, like him or not, what ever else is said, we are stuck with him for the next two years. So, since he's in charge he must succeed.

So, the fact that he's going to run backs into a pile of nine man fronts on 3rd and four, that his OC wont throw the ball past five yards downfield, and his DC wont blitz until four guys can tackle a qb (which doesnt happen much and is WHY you blitz more guys)... Despite all that, he's what we have so as Jeannie said in the Disney Movie 'Aladin'... "Here's hopin"...

But all this talk abou how the rest of the teams are coming back to the pack, so we're thusly not so far behind anymore, thats just loser talk. LSU wins by improving its program, not sitting on branches with the other vultures hoping some other once good program falls on hard times and can be preyed upon.


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