LSU head football coach Les Miles has made it very clear this offseason that he is dedicated to re-establishing the running game that let the Tigers down severely last season.
While this is an obvious need, so is stopping the run.
With only four starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers will be in somewhat of a rebuilding year on that side of the ball. And while they still remain one of the most talented and athletic defenses in the conference, there is one glaring weakness that must be addressed.
Stopping the run will be a key for the Tigers in 2010.
The secondary should be able to shut down or contain most passing games with tons of speed and coverage ability, but will they be able to replace the tenacity and attitude that former safety Chad Jones provided in the past?
Patrick Peterson, one of the nation’s top cover corners, is undoubtedly the leader of the LSU secondary. Playing opposite Peterson at corner is Morris Claiborne, a 6’0”, 170-pound athlete that the coaching staff feels could be equally as effective as Peterson when it comes to being a shut-down corner.
But at 170 pounds, it will be interesting to see if he will be able to come up and make tackles against the run game.
Moving Jai Eugene to safety along with Brandon Taylor gives the Tigers four cornerbacks in the secondary. While this is great for pass coverage, it is yet to be determined if they can be effective against the run.
Up front, the Tigers return Drake Nevis, a defensive tackle that will do his part to stuff the middle. The Tigers hope that former defensive end Lazarius Levingston can make the transition to defensive tackle, and help Nevis secure the middle.
It may sound obvious, but if they can force opponents to run outside, it will definitely favor the Tigers’ young, speedy defense.
The Tigers’ linebackers, led by Kelvin Sheppard, should be a solid group against the run, but with a young group, only time will tell.
Miles has emphasized physicality this spring.
Tiger fans can only hope that our defensive players, who are known for their speed and athleticism, can bring a toughness and hard hitting attitude to the table in 2010.