Showcasing Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of LSU Tigers

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IOctober 17, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates a 23-21 win against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Tiger Stadium on October 13, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After making it to the national championship game last season, No. 6 LSU has gone 6-1 this season, with its lone loss coming at the hands of then-No. 10 and currently No. 2 Florida.

The same staples are there for the Tigers, but they do appear to be a weaker team than in 2011. 

Of course, beating then-No. 3 South Carolina last week was a great way to rebound from the loss to Florida, and it comes at a critical time, as LSU faces No. 18 Texas A&M, No. 1 Alabama and No. 12 Mississippi State next.

Here's a breakdown of LSU's biggest strengths and weaknesses in 2012.



Run Defense

LSU has held opponents to just 2.63 yards per carry this season, sixth in the FBS, via That includes holding South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore to just 35 yards on 13 carries in Week 7.

Much like last year's squad, LSU is making it darn near impossible to cover a lot of ground against them this season.


Pass Defense

No Morris Claiborne, no Tyrann Mathieu, no problem.

Despite being without two of its biggest stars from last season, LSU has held opposing quarterbacks to 4.7 yards per pass attempt (second only to Florida State) while notching 10 interceptions (tied for eighth in the nation).

While South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw tossed two touchdowns against the Tigers, he also tossed two interceptions and averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt.

LSU has also gotten after the quarterback, registering 20 sacks this season (tied for 11th in the nation). Nothing like having defensive end Sam Montgomery on your side.


Running Game

I wasn't overly thrilled about LSU's run game until, well, Jeremy Hill showed up in Week 7 against a tough South Carolina run defense.

The freshman got a season-high 17 carries in that game and responded by erupting for 124 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

I'm guessing Les Miles will be giving the Baton Rouge native a healthy amount of carries moving forward.



Punter Brad Wing is averaging 43.77 yards per punt, 17th in the nation, including a long of 62 yards. The sophomore has been very consistent, and he helps an already strong LSU defense pin opponents back.


Kickoff Coverage

Opponents have averaged just 17.27 yards per kickoff return against LSU this season, the 14th-best mark in the FBS. That includes not allowing a touchdown off a kickoff return.

It's hard enough scoring on this LSU defense. When you start off a drive with poor field position, it makes it even more difficult.



Passing Game

Junior signal-caller Zach Mettenberger simply hasn't impressed this season.

He's averaged 7.8 yards per pass attempt (37th in the nation) while tossing six touchdowns to four interceptions. That includes throwing an interception against both Florida and South Carolina the past two weeks while failing to notch a single passing touchdown.

There is a lot to like about LSU, but the Tigers can't expect to go far this season without Zach Mettenberger improving. He's too much of a liability at this point.



I don't know what it is about Alabama and LSU this season, but they've been lucky their problems holding on to the pigskin haven't hurt them more.

LSU has racked up 14 fumbles this season (tied for 101st in the nation) and has lost eight of those fumbles (tied for 104th).

In the 14-6 loss to Florida, LSU lost two fumbles.

The Tigers have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.



LSU has averaged 7.8 penalties per game this season, tied for 106th in the nation. That includes averaging 59.6 penalty yards per game, 79th in the FBS.

In the loss to Florida, the Tigers had eight penalties for 83 yards.

LSU wasn't exactly perfect in this department last season either, but the Tigers were at least in the middle of the pack in penalties per game.


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