The Auburn Tigers may not be primed for another national title run in 2011, but pundits still believe there’s a great chance the BCS National Champion will reign from the SEC.
The other Tigers of the west, LSU, are expected to be primed and dangerous this fall thanks to a surplus of returning starters and loads of upperclassmen experience.
Here are ten reasons why the men from the bayou will take the SEC title, and maybe a national title in 2011.
Replacing a guy like Stevan Ridley, who amassed over 1,000 yards last season, will be vital to LSU’s continuation of their strong running attack.
Tiger fans should not be worried with Spencer Ware seemingly locking up the starting tailback position this spring. Ware is a powerful and violent runner that brings an extra dose of energy to the field every time he touches the rock.
He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but he carried 10 times for over 100 yards in the Cotton Bowl in what was undoubtedly his coming out party.
Jordan Jefferson should be classified as option one for LSU’s quarterback situation. The Tigers are definitely in a more comfortable spot behind center than they have been in the recent past. Sure, Jefferson has had his fair share of struggles, but his talent level is through the roof and you would expect him to finally break the ice.
Many believe that the presence of Zach Mettenberger, who transferred in from JUCO as one of the top prospects, should give Jefferson more reason to really work for the top spot on the depth chart.
Some are really bidding for Mettenberger to take over, but when it comes down to it there is no man who could potentially run the offense better than number nine. His running ability is fantastic. If Jefferson can finally turn a corner and pick up the passing game he could really impress.
Here’s option two, just in case the Jordan Jefferson experiment finally washes out. Mettenberger is a proven talent.
He starred in Georgia’s spring game last year before getting kicked off the team because of legal issues, but Tiger fans are more than happy to have him around. He’s tall, big, and has a rocket arm. He’s also apparently quite the player if he seemingly took the job over Aaron Murray at UGA, considering Murray is coming back as arguably the SEC’s best quarterback.
If Jefferson struggles, Mettenberger could easily fill in and turn up the Tigers offense.
If you look at LSU’s offensive statistics from last year you will notice how distributed all of the yards are. The truth is the Tigers will enter 2011 as the most versatile and multi-dimensional offense in the SEC.
Jefferson gives them a run-pass threat from under center, and Russell Shepard’s ability to throw, run, and catch makes him a dangerous weapon.
The Tigers offense should have opponents on their heels and over-thinking all year.
They say defense wins championships, which bodes well when you only allow 18 points a game through the course of a season.
That’s what LSU did last year and they should be just as good in the fall. Losing players like Patrick Peterson, Kelvin Sheppard and Drake Nevis definitely seems a little demoralizing, but LSU defenders are convinced they will be just as dangerous.
The secondary has another budding star in Morris Claibourne, and top recruit Anthony Johnson could be a beast at defensive tackle. Don’t expect to win shootouts against LSU next year.
It’s true. The SEC, especially in the east, isn’t at its expected level of prominence—at least not for now. Georgia and Florida are expected to make major improvements from last season, but both teams have tons of question marks surrounding their respective programs.
Also, the SEC East champion, South Carolina Gamecocks, appear to be parting ways with Stephen Garcia, which means they could be taking a few steps backwards.
Auburn won’t be the same without Cameron Newton, and Arkansas is still searching for a championship caliber pedigree on defense. Alabama, albeit a very tough competitor, is the only team threatening LSU’s ruling of the roost.
LSU will enter 2011 as possibly the most experienced SEC team. Sixteen starters return, and 18 of the projected starters are either juniors or seniors. This includes the starting quarterback, which is always hugely important, and almost the entire offensive line.
You can’t go wrong with that much experience coming back from a team that went 11-2 a year ago. LSU will only be better, which bodes well for them considering they’ve actually won a national title with a two loss record before. If the Tigers lose one game, and win the SEC championship, it would be pretty much impossible to leave them out of the BCS title game.