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March 31, 2013

LSU Spring Football - My Answers to Questions Posed by Chat Sports

Chat Sports recently graciously included me in a round table discussion about LSU Football that will feature several LSU Football bloggers.  I encourage you to go to Chat Sports to see the full discussion that will include several really qualified experts on LSU football as well as my opinion.  Below you will find my full answers to the questions that I answered for Chat Sports.

What does LSU need to do to beat Alabama in 2013?
Despite popular misperception, LSU is no underdog in what has become “The Game”.  Les Miles has been LSU’s head coach since the 2005-06 season and during his tenure LSU is 5-3 versus Alabama in the regular season.  Over the last eight years less than 10 points has determined the winner of the regular season matchup in all but one game (LSU beat Alabama 28-14 in 2006-07).  Understandably, perceptions of this matchup changed in the 2011-12.  Though LSU went undefeated during the regular season, the Tigers barely got out of Tuscaloosa with an overtime 9-6OT victory and got pummeled 21-0 in the post season rematch. Maybe “pummeled” is a bit strong considering that 15 of those 21 points were all earned via 5 field goals ranging from 23-44 yards.  The sole Alabama touchdown in the contest was made with less than 5-minutes left in the game and the extra point was missed.

All LSU needs to do to beat Alabama in 2013 is bring their “A” game, the entire game.  And remember last year’s game in which the Tide narrowly escaped defeat in the last 51-seconds of “The Game” on the only drive of the 4th quarter in which the Tide did not go three and out.

Who will emerge as the starting running back in 2013? And why?
If Alfred Blue is 100% by the beginning of the season, he will likely be the starting running back.  However, LSU will continue to likely rotate in several really good running backs.

When I was a student at LSU in the mid-1980s LSU had an exciting running back tandem of Dalton Hilliard and Gary James.  I think a similar “throwback/retro” running scheme with Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill would cause nightmares for opposing defenses and thrills for Tiger fans.

But, to answer your question, a healthy Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill will most likely be the every down go to running backs that will trade off starting.  It is noteworthy that Hilliard and Terrence Magee have both had really good showings this spring and may end up with plenty of quality carries.

Going into the spring, what do you think is LSU’s biggest weakness? And what do they need to do to improve?
While LSU will have to continue to develop a stronger passing game and work very hard to maintain a stellar defense that will be missing key players from last year, offensive center is the biggest question mark coming from what we have learned this spring. 

The only center listed on LSU’s roster is Elliott Porter and he may not end up being the starting center.  LSU has worked a couple of other guys at center this spring including true freshman Ethan Pocic.  Quarterback-Center exchange is a notable problem coming from what we know of LSU’s most recent spring scrimmage. 

The good news is that LSU is loaded with really good offensive linemen and they have until the end of the summer to shore up a position that P.J. Lonergan aptly anchored the last few years.

Who will emerge as the star of the 2013 Tigers team?
2013 is the time for Zach Mettenberger to step up and prove his star value.  I think if Mettenberger can get the ball near Jarvis Landry, that the “Mettenberger to Landry” combo will provide plenty of highlight footage for TV watchers.  It is also easy to pick Hill or Hilliard as potential stars. 

Defensively, there is a real opportunity for a defensive lineman to step up.

Name one under the radar player who is going to have a breakout season in 2013.
Jermauria Rasco has made his presence known this spring and appears to be the most likely candidate.  Danielle Hunter may also fill that bill.  Both of these guys have been mentioned in the mainstream media as potential “breakout” guys and so maybe neither qualifies as truly “under the radar.”  So I will throw four more names in to the “under the radar breakout” category:

Deion Jones and Christian LaCouture on defense
Quantavius Leslie and John Diarse on offense

Deion Jones showed a real ability to knife into the backfield and disrupt thing in a couple of plays early last season and if he live up to those flashes of potential, we are talking “return of the honey badger” type fun.

LSU recruited true freshman Christian LaCouture out of the Nebraska cornfields of defensive blackshirt central; a place where in times past they used to grow big mean defensive linemen well, like corn.  During the spring LaCouture has shown he can play D-line at LSU from day one.  He will have to wait for his turn in the rotation but, if he plays like I think he can, he will see his time on the field increasing with each game.

Quantavius Leslie and John Diarse are wide receivers with some size and toughness.  I believe that Diarse, who is a true freshman, is a longer shot this year, but; I believe he will work his way into a key role at LSU before he graduates.  On the other hand, Quantavius Leslie is a 6’4” 190-lbs. junior college transfer wide receiver.  These factors point to a conclusion that would suggest LSU has brought in Leslie for an immediate need/impact.  LSU did miss having a solid receiver with Leslie’s size last year and Mettenberger will have lots of motivation to improve his passing game.  I have not heard a thing about Leslie.  For all I know he may not even be eligible to play next year but the question kind of begs a bit of gambling.

I could make the case for just about any LSU player to have a breakout season next year.  LSU is loaded with talent player and any one of those players could have a breakout season.  But, I couldn’t pick just one.  So those are my four not so long longshots.

Which true freshman will have the biggest impact in 2013?
Ethan Pocic will see a lot of time in LSU’s offensive line rotation and may end up being a four year starter at center.
Christian LaCouture will be an impact player in 2013 and may end up being counting in the ranks of the great defensive linemen from LSU before the end of his college career. 


Anonymous said...

Great as always Bob! Can't wait until you finish you Masters and get back to writing more about LSU.

TexasTiger! said...

Is that guy for real? If you are not already doing this for a living, give me a call. I will send you an email with my number. You are probably my favorite sports writer. You and Clay Travis, seriously. And Tenn is not all that excitng lately.

Football said...

Battle between college football teams getting more tough and the Alabama is also getting hard because most of the teams start playing well and serious so Alabama should also start playing serious in their next match.

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