On paper and basically as perceived by the SEC fanbase, LSU appears to be the front runner for a BCS 2011 national title participant. The Tigers can almost taste it after last year's 11-2 finish.
However, a few thoughts need to be pondered in order to fill this prophecy.
First off, the question of quarterback play needs to be answered. Will the reigns be lead by Jordan Jefferson? If so, will it be Jordan "Jekyll" Jefferson or Jordan "Hyde" Jefferson. You never know which one will show up. He himself has admitted that Mettenberger being on campus has pushed him to better his game. But will it show?
Even if Dr. Jekyll shows up you must remember that he is a doctor and has experience. That always helps.
As for his assistants in the operating room, the good doctor returns all but one offensive lineman and loses wide receiver Terrence Toliver and running back Stevan Ridley. Ridley will be replaced by up-and-comer Spencer Ware.
You might remember him from one such performance in the Cotton Bowl against the Aggies. Toliver, the most productive WR (not by much) will be filled in by Rueben Randle, oh, and maybe Spencer Ware.
Thus the query of quarterback play will not be answered until that first game in Jerry World.
What about running back? Spencer Ware had only one great game. And he was not thrust into the work load much during the season because of Ridley and JJ carrying the ball. However, the offensive line will be the key to Ware's success. And, he may just be successful.
Special teams is a big issue to think about. Losing the leader of the team in scoring points is never easy, and Josh Jasper will be missed. He not only accounted for most of the teams points, but without him and his dead-on foot, the Tigers would have been looking at more than just two losses in 2010. They may have been looking at five.
Also when speaking of special team players one must mention PP. Patrick Peterson exploded on the scene, returning punts for touchdowns and flipping the field for the Tigers. He allowed JJ to work in short field position more often than not. Losing this ability will be key in the latter minutes of games.
Why? Because the defense is going to hold teams to a lot of three-and-outs in the latter part of the game.
Speaking of defense, some say Peterson was of special importance in the defensive play of the team as well. From what I understand, Kelvin Sheppard will be missed more than PP because of the leadership qualities. Don't get me wrong, PP was great, but he also was missing some key plays in the second half of the season. Not his fault when he is worn down from special teams play.
Of major importance is the new offensive coordinator. Steve Kragthorpe will be guiding the Tigers this year. No one has given this any real talk over the past couple of months, and I wonder how this will effect what was a lackluster offense in the previous years.
Honestly though, if the Bengal Tigers can win 11 games with the offense they had last year, then with the weapons they have returning this year Kragthorpe couldn't do any worse.
LSU has one of the most exciting schedules to watch this year. It is laid out not as a cake walk to the BCSNC but more of soap opera climaxing to the season finale. There are story lines for just about every game:
Oregon, Revenge of the Duckies and the honor of the SEC rests in the Tiger's paw!
@MSU, The Mullinites wont let that ball slip out six times this year.
@WVU, Where is your Patrick Peterson this game! His name is SPENCER WARE!
UK, Don't overlook the Wildcats thinking about Florida.
UF, The Gators won't get fooled again!
@UT, I don't think Dooley will run back out of the locker room this time.
AU, Revenge of the Tiger, the bayou kind!
@Bama, Could be the game that decides the West and the SEC Champion.
@Ole Miss, Time to revisit the demons and lay them to waste.
Arkansas, Where is your Mallett this time?!
We shall see what is in store for Miles and LSU this year. Will his luck keep on rolling or will the ball bounce in the opposite direction this time around?