The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off a second straight BCS championship and look poised to make a run for a rare three-peat. Texas A&M is being thought of as a likely challenger with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel ready for an encore run in 2013. Ole Miss generated some buzz with a standout recruiting class and new coaches look to reinvigorate programs at Arkansas and Auburn.
Have we forgotten about LSU? After all, this is a team that lost three games last season by a combined total of 13 points against top 15 teams, two of those losses coming on late scoring possessions by the opponent.
It has been pretty tough to really figure out what we can expect from the Tigers in 2013. As we start to wind down with spring practices and transition over to the summer, I am starting to wonder if we are making a mistake by not discussing LSU more than we seem to have been doing this spring.
On the surface, it would be very easy to speculate the 2013 Tigers could struggle in SEC play. The defense has been gutted with just three starters returning this season. But if there is one thing we should acknowledge about LSU, it is that since Les Miles succeeded Nick Saban as head coach in 2005, the Tigers have put together an overall record of 85-21 and have averaged 10 wins per season. Sure, LSU may be losing a lot of players on defense and their offense at times was somewhat average last season, but are we being naive to think they will not play a key role in the SEC West division race? The answer is: absolutely.
LSU’s offense will have some key players ready to go with Zach Mettenberger apparently having a solid spring and running back Jeremy Hill ready to lead the ground game. The receivers should be in decent shape with sophomores Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry back after leading the team in receiving last fall. If the offensive line can pull it together early enough in the season, then success will all come down to the play of the defense. While the turnover is a legitimate concern, it is not as though LSU has been lacking in recruiting and developing talent on that side of the football. The linebackers and secondary should be on good enough footing in the fall to make for an intimidating defense as it comes together and develops. The bigger concern will be up front on the defensive line after six linemen are moving on from the LSU program.
LSU has not won as many games as they have under Les Miles by accident. Don’t fall in to a trap of forgetting about LSU when breaking down the SEC West this fall.