LSU head coach Les Miles
Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email.
You've got SEC questions, and I've got SEC answers. Thank you, everybody, for your questions this week. And if I didn't get to them this week, they are still saved and will be used in the future.
And we're off:
@barrettsallee will LSU's 2013 season be as bad as everyone predicts? LSU thrives when considered the underdog.— Chris forester (@Drownin_n_grace) February 14, 2013
No, I'm not buying into the demise of the LSU program at all.
Sure, the Tigers had 10 players leave early for the NFL draft—six of which are on the defensive side of the football—but LSU has recruited well and can certainly withstand the loss.
Jalen Mills played well as a freshman, stepping in for Tyrann Mathieu as the starting cornerback. He, fellow sophomore Jalen Collins and rising senior Craig Loston should fortify the back end of the defense.
Kwon Alexander is a future star at linebacker and Anthony Johnson desperately needs to become the star that many predicted he would be now that Bennie Logan is gone from the interior of the Tiger defensive line.
There will be some bumps in the road defensively, which puts more pressure on the offense. The good news is that, with Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue at running back, a veteran wide receiving corps and four contributors on the offensive line returning, the offense has what it takes to pick up the slack. It just needs some help from its quarterback.
Zach Mettenberger wasn't bad down the stretch last season, and with another offseason of work—especially if Cam Cameron is officially hired as offensive coordinator—the Tigers will be fine.
@barrettsallee Which SEC West team is most likely to finish last next year? I say Miss State.— Rick Muscles (@RickMuscles) February 14, 2013
I can see Mississippi State, Arkansas and Auburn all "contending" for that spot.
That's not necessarily a knock against those teams, as I think all will contend for bowl games, but somebody in the West is going to have to lose—and it might just cannibalize itself to a point where several teams are in or near the cellar.
Could one of those teams be Mississippi State? Absolutely.
The Bulldogs are 4-20 versus teams that finish with eight or more wins under current head coach Dan Mullen and they can't count on Arkansas and Auburn being down for long. They lost Cam Lawrence, Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay on defense and looked woeful on offense against Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
With that said, I still think Arkansas and head coach Bret Bielema may be in for rough fall. The upside for the Hogs is huge, but the roster turnover coupled with a brutal schedule that sends them to Florida, Alabama and LSU may be too much to overcome.
@barrettsallee Big10(+2+2 more) says no D-1AA teams to be scheduled. How soon till SEC moves that direction? (As well as 9gm Conf slate)— Kevin Greene (@KEGreene1) February 14, 2013
I don't think it ever will ban its members from playing Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams, nor should it.
The SEC gets unjustifiably criticized for its scheduling practices despite the fact that most teams have at least one quality out-of-conference game per season and sometimes more. It's almost as if critics either ignore or forget that the SEC conference schedule—which constitutes the majority of the schedule—is significantly tougher than any other conference slate in the country.
Plus, administrators from around the south know each other. Oftentimes, those games are needed for financial purposes for the FCS programs.
Regarding the nine-game schedule, I do think it will happen eventually and will be dictated by television. CBS and ESPN have voiced concern over the lack of compelling matchups on Weeks 1, 2 and 13 of the season and adding an additional conference game would certainly go a long way towards fulfilling the inventory demands of the SEC's media partners.
If it doesn't happen during the current renegotiation, it will probably happen during the next "look-in" window. At that time, if there is a ban on playing FCS teams, I would imagine it will be lifted.
Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at email@example.com.