I wake up almost every morning to the same routine; after I turn off my alarm and turn on ESPN, I hazily walk over to my Macintosh to click it out of its sleep mode. I then bring up the dashboard and check out the weather, stocks, BBC news, etc. The very next widget my eyes naturally gaze over to is worse than any "Pakistan bombing" article you'd run across on BBC: My "2010 Louisiana State Tigers Schedule" widget. Safe to say, looking at it causes me to undergo a good ol' palm-face nearly every time. Have you seen that thing yet? It's... scary.
The 2010 season is very important to this program, and the tough schedule won't help. Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi State, West Virgina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss―are any of these guaranteed wins? Hard to say, but one thing's certain: the following five players must have a major, major impact if LSU wants to represent the West in the SEC championship game, and potentially the SEC in Arizona.
5. Joseph Barksdale
He may not be the left tackle responsible for this summer's most overrated film, but he does have Jordan Jefferson blind-side duties come fall. Barksdale enters his senior season at LSU as Ciron Black's 6'5", 315 lb. replacement and should be the focal point of opening up lanes for LSU's rushing attack, something that was less than stellar as of last season. LSU's offense must be better at this in 2009 to help out its signal caller, and Barksdale, on paper, looks as if he can handle the job.
4. Russell Shepard
We all know that die-hard Florida, 'Bama, or Ole Miss fan that just loves to talk football and throw in a hefty amount of trash talk as well. For the LSU fan, it's hard to passionately join in on the conversation when the offense looks as lack-luster as it did game in and game out during 2009. The man that can spark our offense and coincidentally give us a spark in our trash talking has to be none other than Russell Shepard.
We recruited Shepard to be like Percy Harvin, but he's been doing his best "Where's Waldo?" impression since day one, if you forget about the Auburn game. The 2010 Tigers need the Sophomore to bring his game.
3. Drake Nevis and/or Pep Levingston
When your guys up front are playing well, the guys behind them are usually doing the same. Stopping Noel Devine, Jeffery Demps and Mark Ingram will be no easy task, so these two will be called upon, early and often.
2. Patrick Peterson
Thwarting opponents' No. 1 receivers comes easy to No. 7 for the Tigers. Patrick has to cover two of the top five receivers in college football in Julio Jones of Alabama and Greg Little of North Carolina during the upcoming season, though, so his work is cut out for him.
On the plus side, if a shot at a national championship isn't enough incentive, Patrick Peterson is one of the top cornerbacks in the country as a junior, which means he's set to make millions in the NFL if he continues his dominance.
When guys like Jones and Little and other top-notch receivers Peterson will face come 2010 in the SEC have big days, it usually means big points, which translates to big wins for opponents as well. Peterson's impact or lack thereof next season is huge.
1. Jordan Jefferson
Ah, the quarterback position at LSU. If it were better, Les Miles might have three or four extra rings by now.
If it's your first year at starting quarterback in a conference that's quite a step up from the high school level, I can understand some woes. But now it's your second year―we need to see improvement. If we don't, it's your job to lose. Oh, and 90 percent of the blame falls on you as well if the team loses.
Jordan Jefferson has a lot to deal with come 2010, but he also has a lot of experience under his belt from 2009, so it's time for him to step up.
(Follow me on twitter @chaseLSU and I'll give you the "2010 Louisiana State Tigers Schedule" widget for free―just e-mail me <firstname.lastname@example.org>―it costs money for an original download but I got the hookups!)