LSU Football: Finalizing the Week 1 Depth Chart
It's hard to find a hole in the 2012 LSU depth chart.
Finally, this team has all of the pieces put in place to run, throw and stuff the football. Better yet, there's no reason why this team shouldn't dominate every phase of the game.
LSU has the deepest running back stable in the country, plenty of weapons on the outside, a veteran offensive line, the best defensive line in the country, a deep linebacker core and a spectacular secondary, even without Tyrann Mathieu.
This should be the year of the Tigers, and in their first game against North Texas on Sept. 1, these are the expected starters.
QB: Zach Mettenberger
The team is now Zach Mettenberger's, and it's time to see what he can do with this offense.
Mettenberger sports a strong arm to go along with an accurate deep ball, and if he can prevent teams from loading the box against the Tigers and take good care of the football, the Tigers will easily be one of the best teams in the nation.
Backup: Stephen Rivers/Rob Bolden
Stephen Rivers is the younger brother of Phillip Rivers and brings a high level of intelligence to the position.
Rob Bolden is a Penn State transfer that could provide the Tigers with a mobile option at quarterback.
RB: Alfred Blue
Out of LSU's top four running backs, Alfred Blue should get the start come Saturday.
Michael Ford and Spencer Ware sat out of the Tigers' last two scrimmages, and Blue and Kenny Hilliard took full advantage. Both running backs looked great, and Blue led the Tigers in rushing in both scrimmages.
Backups: Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, Spencer Ware
While Blue should get the nod to start in Week 1, Spencer Ware will most likely earn the starting position as the Tigers get deeper into the season.
Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford will see plenty of playing time as well.
FB: J.C. Copeland
J.C. Copeland is a beast.
If you had to pick the baddest man on the team, Copeland would be the best candidate. This guy tramples linebackers in his way and clears paths for LSU's running backs. He was a huge reason for the Tigers' rushing success in 2011 and he'll be just as influential in 2012.
Backup: Connor Neighbors
Connor Neighbors is a 5'10", 230-pound sophomore that doesn't pack the same punch as Copeland, but is more elusive.
WR: Russell Shepard
It's put up or shut up for Russell Shepard.
This is Shepard's last opportunity to live up to the hype, and with a pro-style quarterback throwing to him in Mettenberger, Shepard will get plenty of chances to deliver.
Backup: James Wright
James Wright will be one of the Tigers' tallest targets on the team and should be utilized tremendously in goal line situations.
WR: Odell Beckham
Odell Beckham is LSU's leading returning wide receiver. As a freshman, he had 475 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Beckham is elusive and has very soft hands, which will make him Mettenberger's primary target this season.
Backup: Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry is known as the guy that delivers the earth-shattering hits on special teams, but Landry has had a solid spring and fall catching the football. Look for Landry to bust onto the SEC scene in a big way in 2012.
TE: Chase Clement
With DeAngelo Peterson gone, Chase Clement will be the Tigers' featured tight end.
While Clement does possess an overall solid receiving game, he'll be utilized more for his blocking. Having said that, Clement's catching ability has improved through fall camp.
Backup: Nic Jacobs
Nic Jacobs is a 6'5" sophomore that should prove to be a solid backup behind Clement.
OT: Chris Faulk
Chris Faulk is one of the best left tackles in the game.
Faulk was selected to the second team All-SEC team by the Associated Press last season and ESPN's Chris Low has Faulk as the 14th best player in the SEC for 2012.
Backup: Chris Davenport
OG: La'el Collins
Just talking about LSU's offensive line should excite LSU fans because of the depth and experience.
In fact, one of the Tigers' best players from two years ago, Josh Dworaczyk, is returning as a utility guard behind La'el Collins. There's been a lot of hype surrounding Collins, and in 2012, he'll get an opportunity to live up to it.
Backup: Josh Dworaczyk
C: P.J. Lonergan
P.J. Lonergan has started 26 games as a Tiger, and he's been an anchor for LSU on the offensive line.
Lonergan is thought to be one of the top returning centers, and it shouldn't come as a surprise if he's a finalist for the Rimington Trophy.
Backup: Elliot Porter
OG: Josh Williford
Josh Williford is another guy that returns to the team with a substantial amount of experience. Entering his junior season, Williford has already played in 25 games for LSU.
Williford towers over his opponents as he stands 6'7" and weighs 332 pounds. He's one of the biggest players on the team and he's a returning starter.
Backup: Trai Turner
OT: Alex Hurst
Alex Hurst is the best offensive lineman on the team.
Even more so, he's one of the best offensive linemen in the SEC, and is expected to have another outstanding season for the Tigers in his senior campaign.
Backup: Vadal Alexander
DE: Barkevious Mingo
Barkevious Mingo should steal Anthony Johnson's nickname and call himself "The Freak," because that's exactly what he is.
Mingo is a 6'5", 240-pound monster that runs a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. In other words, he has the strength to separate himself from the tackle blocking him and the speed to run down a running back in the backfield. Good look scheming around this guy.
Backup: Lavar Edwards
Lavar Edwards is a veteran that would have seen a lot more playing time if not for LSU's stacked defensive line. He would be starting at most other schools.
DT: Bennie Logan
Bennie Logan lived in the shadow of Michael Brockers last year, but in reality, he was just as good.
Logan is a run-stuffer that has a knack for finding his way into the backfield. Last season, Logan accounted for 57 tackles and three sacks, which are pretty hefty numbers for an interior lineman.
Backup: Ego Ferguson
Just because you're a backup on the defensive line at LSU, it doesn't mean you can't stand out. Ego Ferguson will still receive tremendous playing time as the Tigers like to keep fresh bodies on the field.
DT: Anthony Johnson
Johnson's action was limited on the defensive line last season, but he's sure to gain more playing time with Brockers gone.
Johnson is somewhat reminiscent to Glenn Dorsey in the way he rips through the line and overpowers running backs. Obviously, he's nowhere near the talent level of Dorsey, but as he continues to mature as a football player, he could become a real force inside.
Backup: Josh Downs
Like Ferguson, Josh Downs will see the field often with the Tigers' rotating defensive linemen in.
DE: Sam Montgomery
Though Mingo and Sam Montgomery are equally impressive, Montgomery is the one that's garnered the preseason accolades.
On just about every media outlet there is, Montgomery is listed as a First-Team Preseason All-American. A lot of hype surrounds this talented defensive end, but his abilities to rip through blocks and make plays in the backfield warrant praise.
Backup: Jermauria Rasco
As a freshman, Jermauria Rasco played in nine games last season and looked awfully impressive. Rasco could be the next great defensive end for the Tigers.
Sam: Tahj Jones
Tahj Jones is exactly what John Chavis is looking for in a linebacker.
Jones is a smaller linebacker with speed and playmaking abilities. In his first two seasons with the Tigers, he tallied 32 tackles, one sack and an interception.
Backup: Kwon Alexander
With their 2012 recruiting class, the Tigers added a lot of youth to their linebacking core. Kwon Alexander was one of the most notable and after having a solid fall camp, he's expected to receive some playing time as a true freshman.
Mike: Kevin Minter
Kevin Minter is a run-stopping linebacker.
He's a hard-hitter that's made 76 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in an LSU uniform. Minter's thought to be one of the better linebackers in the SEC, and with such a young group behind him, he's expected to be the leader of the linebackers.
Backup: Luke Muncie
Luke Muncie didn't let the hype of the freshman linebackers push him into irrelevance this fall. Muncie had a great camp and should serve as a reserve in 2012.
Will: Lamin Barrow
Though Lamin Barrow only has two starts on his resume, he has played in 25 games.
Barrow has basically been a utility linebacker for the Tigers in the past, but he should be the Tigers' starting weak-side linebacker in 2012.
Backup: Lamar Louis
Lamar Louis is one of the many freshmen that impressed in both the spring and the fall.
CB: Tharold Simon
Taking Mo Claiborne's place will be Tharold Simon, and he has the potential to be just as good as Claiborne.
In fact, when the season's over, Simon will be recognized as one of the best cornerbacks in the nation because of his coverage skills. Good luck getting separation from him, as he allows his man no space to make any plays.
Backup: Dwayne Thomas
Dwayne Thomas is a freshman that could see playing time should the circumstances call for it. In all likelihood, Simon will anchor down his position while Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins handle their business on the opposite side.
CB: Jalen Mills
You can't replace a Tyrann Mathieu.
Sure, Jalen Mills might turn out to be a better cover corner than Mathieu, but the odds of him forcing six fumbles and creating havoc in the backfield aren't likely. That's why this young freshman needs to take baby steps, and as the game slows down for him, he should become a dynamic cornerback.
Backup: Jalen Collins
Jalen Collins should see the field a lot with Mathieu's absence, especially if Mills struggles early on.
S: Eric Reid
Eric Reid is a special athlete.
He can do it all. Reid is a hard hitter that possesses great coverage ability and has the ball skills to make plays in the secondary. It's no wonder why this guy's on every Preseason First Team All-American Team.
Backup: Micah Eugene
Micah Eugene is a freshman that will benefit from sitting behind one of the best safeties in the game.
S: Craig Loston
Craig Loston's chances of starting Week 1 have been iffy due to the injury rumors surrounding him, but he's still expected to start.
Loston came to LSU as the best safety in high school, and because of injuries, he hasn't lived up to the hype. Health permitting, 2012 should be the year Loston makes noise in the SEC for LSU.
Backup: Ronald Martin
As Loston was battling some minor injures during camp, Ronald Martin was taking reps in his place. Should Loston get injured, expect Martin to be the guy to fill in for him.
K: Drew Alleman
Alabama fans know exactly who Drew Alleman is.
Last season, Alleman was fantastic. He made 16-of-18 field goals, including a game-winner against Alabama in the "Game of the Century."
Ice runs cold through this guy's veins. Alleman will be a senior this season, and he should be a dependable option for Les Miles and his staff on game day.
Alleman gives Florida's Caleb Sturgis a run for his money on being the best field-goal kicker in the conference.
P: Brad Wing
This man doesn't need an introduction.
Brad Wing is not only the most popular player on the LSU Tigers, but he's one of the most popular players in college football. Pretty crazy for a punter, right?
The celebration heading into the end zone during his fake punt touchdown certainly helped.
Wing is a true weapon for LSU, as his powerful leg can change the field position in LSU's advantage every single time.
KR/PR: Odell Beckham
With Mathieu gone, Beckham should handle the kick-return duties.
Beckham is an elusive player that can make plays, as we've seen from his receiving abilities.
No, Beckham won't be as explosive as Mathieu, but LSU always has great blocking on special teams so there should be holes for Beckham to run through.
The Tigers are downgrading at this position without Mathieu, but with Beckham's athleticism they're not downgrading a whole lot.