Les Miles' Biggest Challenges for the LSU Tigers in 2013

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIMay 22, 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers watches a play against the North Texas Mean Green at Tiger Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It's time for Les Miles to earn that $3.75 million annual salary, not that he hasn't already.

In order for the Tigers to win an SEC Championship and win another national championship in 2013, Miles must produce one of his greatest coaching jobs to date.

His job begins internally. Here again, aren't we Tigers fans? Oh the headaches these players induce with their troublemaking.


Overcoming departures/suspensions

Before we get into all that, first things first—fill the gaps. This is what Miles is best at.

Miles can recruit with the best of them, and because of this, he has plenty of talented players to choose from. So when Tigers fans worry about filling the gaps on the defensive side of the ball, I simply say, rest easy—The Mad Hatter has plenty of tools in his toolbox.

The defensive line is depleted, but Anthony Johnson returns, along with many flashy 4-star newcomers such as Frank Herron, Tashawn Bower, Kendell Beckwith, Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore.

Will they be as effective as M&M (Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo) and Bennie Logan? Eh, that's not likely, but they'll be talented nonetheless.

As for the linebacker position, this is where LSU's fantastic 2012 recruiting class comes in handy. You know, the one LSU fans moaned about. The Tigers recruited three linebackers in the ESPN 150 that year.

That's all good news...Are you ready for the bad news? The Tigers may have to play this season without Jeremy Hill at running back. "Big deal, this happens every year. Somebody new will step up," a Tigers fan will usually say.

Normally that's the case, but this year is different. The Tigers no longer have Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, and who knows if Alfred Blue will return to form after injuring his knee last season? That puts a heavy load on Kenny Hilliard. Meanwhile, Terrence Magee will have to step up and be a regular contributor.

Behind a strong offensive line, Blue, Hilliard and Magee can carry the load for the Tigers, but that means they must all remain healthy. Here's to hoping Hill's legal troubles don't sideline him too long. To go along with that, here's to hoping LSU players stay out of the bars this offseason. 


Overcoming a daunting schedule

SEC scheduling rant commence. Just who is booking these SEC schedules nowadays?

Is it a coincidence that Texas A&M and Alabama have the easiest schedules in the conference? There's no sense in sugarcoating it. This is the toughest schedule LSU has inherited in the past decade, and meanwhile, the Aggies and Crimson Tide benefit from much easier schedules.

Via ESPN Video, Miles has already set the pace for this schedule with his comments about it a few weeks ago: "We like to think there's only one school in the country that can go through it."

Taking it one game at a time will be a must for the Tigers. Besides UAB, Kent State and Furman, LSU will face two of the top three teams from the SEC East, SEC West and TCU.

To quote, via the Sporting News, the always quotable Les Miles, "Strap it up," boys. 


Putting the offense in the hands of Cam Cameron

Change can be good.

Miles has to realize this after the Tigers had a meltdown in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson. It's time to hand the offense over to somebody who knows what he's doing. 

Cam Cameron is that man.

Cameron has done nothing but impress since he's accepted the offensive coordinator position. Sure, the Tigers have yet to play their first game, but hurrying up the offense, utilizing more spread formations and giving Zach Mettenberger more options (spreading running backs wide) in the spring are a great start.

It might be somewhat delusional to expect Cameron to come in and contribute greatly in his first year, but then again, isn't that what LSU is all about? Just like Miles successfully inserts freshmen into the offense and defense, Cameron will impressively fine-tune the offense, 2007 Gary Crowton style (when his play-calling was innovative).

Yes, the deck is stacked heavily against the Tigers this year, but we've seen crazier things happen with Miles serving as the Tigers head coach. Missouri and West Virginia getting upset to allow a two-loss LSU team to advance to the national championship game in 2007 ring any bells?

Stay optimistic, Tigers fans.


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