2013 LSU Football Players Analysis
Savvy LSU football fans know that if a few bounces of the football during games against Florida and Alabama had gone a bit differently in 2012, the Tigers could easily have been a National Championship contender. Those two near losses represent the only blemishes on the regular season campaign of last year’s team, and they are looking to get the bitter taste of those two defeats and a one point loss in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to the Clemson Tigers out of their mouths as soon as possible.
Lucky for LSU fans, the team is stacked with talent and is ready to take their rightful place as college football’s best squad. All of the statistical leaders from last year’s offense have returned, and senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger is entering a senior season in which he hopes to put plenty of dominating performances on film for NFL scouts to savor in the months leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6’5” leader out of Watkinsville, Georgia was highly recruited by head coach Les Miles, and this upcoming season is expected to be the culmination of everyone’s efforts.
Mettenberger won’t have to take on the SEC defenses by himself, as the two top-ranked running backs and wide receivers from last year’s squad will return. It is rare that a team in the SEC has an opportunity to gel as the Tigers have in the past few years given the bright spotlight that NFL scouts cast upon major programs such as Louisiana State. Running backs Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard both showed flashes of brilliance last season while compiling a nearly 6-yards-per carry average, and each are a year wiser, stronger and more confident.
The wide receiver position has been lacking in Baton Rouge in recent years as the offense has leaned heavily on its running game, but this could be the season that Mettenberger opens up the attack and throws the ball all over the field on a regular basis. Returning starters Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are waiting to explode on the scene, and a challenging schedule from opening day until the final matchup in late November means that the Tigers will have to hit the ground running and keep their offense in fourth gear in order to set the pace in a wildly competitive SEC.
One group that will be watched very closely during the beginning of the season are the offensive lineman. An impressive fleet of freshman arrived in Baton Rouge recently, and they are expected to grow into a dominating ensemble over the next four years. That having been said, the immediate future is a bit unclear. The first two spots on the depth chart at each position on the offensive line include only one senior, meaning that the entire operation will be dependent on a couple sophomores and perhaps one of the aforementioned freshman. Thankfully, LSU Tiger offensive lineman have a tradition of pulling their weight.
LSU did lose their four or five most recognizable defenders to the NFL, and the starting unit on defense is only expected to feature two seniors, but that doesn’t mean that scoring points against the Bayou Bengals will be an easy task. Senior linebackers Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones have been working side-by-side all off-season, and opposing teams might be forced to abandon the running game early into the contest in order to stay competitive. This could play right into the hands of free safety Ronald Martin and strong safety Craig Loston, two players who have patiently waited their turn for the bright spotlight in Baton Rouge to shine upon them. They are both hoping to make an impact while garnering a lot of “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” from the home crowd over the course of the year.