After a total of 10 LSU juniors declared early for the NFL draft this past month, one thing is for certain in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers won't be the top-ranked team in the nation heading into the 2013 college football season.
Probably not in the top five or top 10 either, for that matter.
In fact, it is possible that with so many key losses on both sides of the ball, LSU may not even crack the preseason top 20 teams.
But in reality, that really isn't such a bad thing for Les Miles' team. In fact, the Tigers very well may benefit from flying under the radar heading into the 2013 season.
If you think back to this past year, expectations were sky high for this LSU group heading into the year.
The defense was expected to be one of, if not the top defensive unit throughout college football. On the other end, the offense was supposed to thrive with that dominant running game and an emerging, young quarterback in Zach Mettenberger.
While the defense held its own with those high expectations, the same can't be said for Mettenberger and the Tigers offense.
The running game was solid for the Tigers this season, make no doubt about it. But many expected this to be the year where LSU really aired it out and featured an elite passing attack with a true pro-style quarterback behind center.
While Mettenberger wasn't bad in his first season as a starter for LSU, he certainly wasn't as good as many had hoped he would be. The junior quarterback passed for 2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions, pretty average numbers for the most part for a starting quarterback.
But this year, people won't have as high of expectations for Mettenberger, which is a good thing for a young kid. If he succeeds and plays better than last year, which I fully anticipate him doing, this will be a win-win situation for him and the team.
The same can be said for the young wide receivers, who got a full year of experience under their belt and should be better next year as well in this LSU offense.
The defense will certainly be flying under the radar as this unit will face the challenge of replacing seven of 11 starters. But that shouldn't be a problem for Miles, as LSU has several expectational, young players waiting in the wings on the defensive side of the ball.
This is an LSU team that always seems to enter the college football season with a ton of hype, but for the first time in a long time, that might not be the case in 2013.
For once, in a long time, this team can let its play on the field do the talking, and rise in the rankings as the season goes on, as opposed to falling.
This is a team that should surprise a lot of people in 2013.
Make no doubt about it.
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