In college football there are terms that get tossed around a lot like “re-building” and “re-loading”, and depending on the program it’s usually one or the other. For small schools, when they lose a large number of players, they must re-build. But when a premier program does the same, we typically say they will simply re-load. But for the LSU football program, their losses were deep. Like a normal senior class and 10 underclassmen who either started or played a significant role. At first glance this appears to be a dire situation. But as I dug a little deeper, things started to seem a little less bleak.
On offense the obvious returning players are quarterback Zach Mettenberger along with the team’s two best running backs Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue. And the foundation of any LSU offense is the ability to run the football. That means the offensive line must be stable. and with four returning starters that shouldn’t be a problem. Head coach Les Miles will need to find a new left tackle, but I am confident that super freshman Ethan Pocic should be able to come in and play well right out of the gate.
And while LSU doesn’t throw the ball a ton, they do love to take their shots downfield. And for the most part the pieces are in place there as well as wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kardon Boone all return. The offense will be in good hands and will probably be counted on to carry a greater load until the defense gets up to speed.
But what about that defense? They lost their three top defensive ends, top two defensive tackles their best inside linebacker and two defensive back starters. seven total starters is an insane amount of talent to lose. How will they replace them all? Obviously they cannot depend on seven new players all coming in and playing at a high level right away, but there is still some talent there.
On the defensive line the faces LSU fans should expect to see a lot of are defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter. They are both very talented players and are the next great rush ends from LSU. On the interior one spot will be up for grabs, but Anthony Johnson will be in one tackle spot and likely a rotation of Ego Henderson and Quentin Thomas along side him.
The linebackers return two starters but replacing linebacker Kevin Minter is a tall order. Ronnie Fiest is young but has a lot of potential. He won’t be Minter next year, but should have enough around him to allow him to develop and become a regular contributor.
Finally, we come to the secondary where two starters will have to be replaced. I really like Jalen Collins and Dwayne Thomas and I expect one of them to emerge as a starter. They are both very good corners along with Jalen Mills form a great three deep cornerback group. At safety losing Eric Reid is hard, but many argue Craig Loston was a better safety last season. You pair Loston up with Ronald Martin and I really do see the secondary losing much ground at all.
So for everyone saying the sky is falling for the LSU Tigers, think again. This team is still loaded and will still be in contention for the SEC in 2013. Come follow me on Twitter @nfldraftboard for all my football ramblings.