LSU Football: The Top 5 Storylines for the 2011 Season

Brett StephenAnalyst IIApril 3, 2011

LSU Football: The Top 5 Storylines for the 2011 Season

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers (L) poses for a photo with BCS Coordinator Mike Slive durinig his press conference at the Marriott Convention Center on January 8, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    The LSU Tigers go into the 2011 season with much optimism, loads of talent, new faces and some changes.

    The goal is set as a BCS championship, and Tigers fans will see anything less as a missed opportunity.

    There are many stories and answers to questions to look forward to as the season approaches, but they all stem down to one thing.  Are we going to be better than last season?

    Improvement is the key.  The Tigers had success in 2010 but fell just short of the ultimate goal: BCS glory.

    The BCS title game returns to the Louisiana Superdome in January 2012, and the LSU Tigers and their fans hope that the trophy stays in the state after the game.

Pay-to-Play Allegations

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers runs through the defense of the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   The Tigers defeated the
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, the 2011 season is getting kicked off with pay-to-play allegations against Patrick Peterson and Willie Lyles, a scouting service owner from Houston, Texas.

    Former Texas A&M cornerbacks coach Van Malone is claiming that Lyles told him that other schools were offering in the neighborhood of $80,000 to land Peterson, a top recruit in 2007.

    Malone, now a recruiter for Tulsa, says that he did not report Lyles to A&M compliance authorities because he wanted to continue recruiting Peterson without the help of Lyles’ service.

    The timing of the allegations is a little suspicious to say the least, four years after the alleged violation and less than one month from the NFL Draft, where Peterson is projected to go high in the first round.

    Peterson had denied having any relationship with Lyles and says that he was never offered and never received any money from LSU.

Brutal September

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in action against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Tigers open the season in the same place that they closed out the 2010 season as they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to take on national champion runner-ups Oregon in Cowboy Stadium.

    The game will be a game not normally seen in Week 1 of the college football season, as both teams should start the season ranked in the top five.

    If LSU can survive Week 1, there should be a nice No. 1 ranking awaiting them in week two.

    Hopefully, Miles will be able to rest most of the starters in what should be a blowout against Northwestern State in week two because his team will have to take on Mississippi State on Thursday night with only four days rest. 

    Week four gets no easier, as the Tigers play another ranked out-of-conference opponent on the road as they travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.

Quarterback

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Tex
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    LSU goes into spring practices with a big decision to make at the quarterback position. 

    Incumbent starter Jordan Jefferson seems to be making strides in his development and looks poised to maintain his starting role.

    Newcomer Zach Mettenberger is also having a good spring and should continue to push Jefferson.

    The real winner in this battle is the Tiger fanbase who has watched the offense struggle to move the ball for the past two seasons.

    Any increase in production from the quarterback position makes the Tigers that much more of an SEC and BCS contender.

New Offense

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 04:  The offense of the LSU Tigers faces the defense of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Besides a change, or improvement at the quarterback position, the Tigers will be running a new, and hopefully improved, offense under new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe.

    If the Tigers are able to move the chains more consistently than they have in the past two seasons and use more of the clock on offense, it should help to improve an already stellar defense.

    Head coach Les Miles is confident that the change will improve the Tiger offense and the anxious LSU fans are hoping he is right.

Superdome Bound?

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 07:  Terrance Toliver #80 of the Louisiana State University Tigers holds up a newspaper in celebration after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 38-24 in the AllState BCS National Championship on January 7, 2008 at the Louisiana Superd
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    The Tigers have won the last two BCS National Title games played in the Louisiana Superdome. 

    An unfair advantage?  Possibly.

    They are poised to do it again in 2011 with loads of talent and a schedule that leaves no doubt about their BCS ranking should they lose less than two games.

    Tiger fans are hopeful that their team can bring home a third BCS title in eight years and be the sixth straight SEC team to win the title.

    A good record in September will put the Tigers on pace to run the tables in the SEC if they can get past Alabama in Tuscaloosa in November.