Les Miles is going to have to answer a lot of questions about his young, inexperienced defense heading into the 2013 college football season.
How do you replace four starters on the defensive line?
Who steps in and fills that cornerback void after Tharold Simon unexpectedly bolted early for the NFL Draft?
Does Lamin Barrow make the move to middle linebacker, or do you go with one of the young, talented sophomores at that spot?
All of these are questions that Miles will likely have to tackle throughout spring practice and into the summer and fall. But the bottom line is that no matter how young this defense may be, they are going to be constantly compared to last year's defense. They are going to fall into the "unknown" category heading into this season, something that LSU defenses aren't exactly familiar with under Les Miles.
But really, that shouldn't matter. Neither should the amount of starters they lost this past season, or the number of freshmen and sophomores that are expected to start on this unit this season. Once in a while, you have to throw out the numbers and go with that something special.
This LSU football program is special. They have been so ever since Les Miles took over back in 2005.
In fact, since Les Miles took over the head coaching reigns in Baton Rouge, he has led this LSU football program to a combined 84-21 record, which includes four BCS appearances, three of which have resulted in victories.
Every one of those seasons, LSU has won because of an exceptional defense.
This season, it is anyone's guess as to how good this defense can be. Replacing seven starters is no easy task, make no doubt about it. But maybe getting some new, young players out on the field is just what this defense needs.
It is no secret that while this LSU team was loaded with talent last season, there were some big egos on the roster as well.
All-American defensive end Sam Montgomery had some strong comments earlier this month at the NFL Combine, admitting that he didn't play his hardest when LSU would beat up on inferior opponents.
Losing Montgomery's production will certainly hurt on the defensive side of the ball, but losing an ego like that could very well help unify a team like this in 2013.
Young, talented players such as Daniel Hunter, Ronnie Fiest, Lamar Louis and Deion Jones will all likely get a chance to compete for starting roles this season.
Several true freshmen such as Kendell Beckwith, Frank Herron and Tre'Davious White could all see the field in 2013.
But in order to do so, they will all have to work extremely hard and show the LSU coaching staff that they are worthy and can be trusted out on the field as freshmen.
That simply wasn't the case with guys like Montgomery, Tharold Simon and Barkevious Mingo, who were all locked into starting spots heading into last season, regardless of the competition.
With this much young talent on the roster, competing for so many open positions, and so many questions surrounding this defense, how could this group not be motivated to prove those doubters wrong?
"This would be a good time to come to LSU if you wanted to come onto the field as a true freshman," Miles told Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com.
The Mad Hatter couldn't have said it any better. And whether it be in the first game of the year or the final week of the season, this year's LSU football team should be more motivated and they will make their own mark in Baton Rouge, make no doubt about it.
They always do.
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