There is no doubt the LSU Tigers have arrived as one of the elite teams in College Football under Head Coach Les Miles. With a dominating defense and just enough gambling on offense, the Tigers have earned the right to be in the discussion for a national title each year.
With a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball moving on, Miles finds himself in an interesting place for the first time in a long while with a group of guys he might not fully have confidence in to play the game he wants to play. And if a coach is second guessing his talent pool in the spring, that could lead to some deadly choices come this fall.
Now the program is far from disbanding at LSU. Miles has developed his red shirts and knows how to get a group ready to go for the grind that is the SEC. But one wrong series or one bad call could really shake up the Tigers in 2013. Especially when you take a good long look at their schedule.
LSU should get off and rolling to a 4-0 start overall and a 1-0 mark in the SEC West with a victory over the Auburn
Tigers before its first brutal test of the season on the road in Athens against the Georgia Bulldogs. By this point, Georgia will have faced the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks so whatever Miles thinks he has will be nothing to the Bulldogs.
So let’s say the Tigers lose to Georgia. They follow that up with a 50-50 game possibly against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road before hosting the Florida Gators. After that LSU hits the road for the darlings of the SEC in the Ole Miss Rebels before taking a week to rest against the Furman Paladins and a bye week before traveling to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in their final road game.
Folks, next to Georgia and Florida that is probably the toughest run as anyone has in the SEC. And to survive, Cam Cameron has to find a way to turn LSU and Zack Mettenberger from a grind it out possession team to more of an explosive attack like the Aggies. If they can’t figure this out in the first four games and Georgia finds a way to hold them to fewer than 20 points, there is a real possibility LSU will struggle to get to 6-6 on the 2013 season.
And the quality of those six wins will not be something fans want to brag about.
Now does Miles and LSU have the moxie to figure out how to win these close games? Yes. Without a doubt. But fans in Baton Rouge need to be prepared now that it could take one heck of a run to get the Tigers bowl eligible.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.