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2013 Fierce-40 Previews: #13-LSU

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 6, 2013

2013 Fierce 40 Previews

 

#13 LSU Tigers

 

2012 Recap:

LSU is constantly at the top of the SEC and the national scene although they lost 3 games last year after losing to Clemson in their bowl game. LSU was very close to defeating Florida last year and it would have given them another crack at Alabama after their epic battles two seasons ago.

 

Coaching:

Les Miles has become a cult hero in Louisiana as LSU is enjoying more success now then they ever have when you look at where they are finishing consistently. Give Les Miles credit for looking to retool the coaching staff not being happy with just being in the top 10 every year, but wanting another National Title.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

Zach Mettenberger has the size and the tools that scouts are looking for in a pro quarterback and he should be a late round selection. As talented as Mettenberger is he has yet to light the SEC on fire. LSU needs to become more consistent with the passing game if they want to ascend to the top of the SEC for 2013. Mettenberger is coming off a year where he threw for over 2,600 yards but only had 12 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. Mettenberger has the ability to step up in the pocket even though he won’t run with the ball often (his longest gain last year was 7 yards). The problem Mettenberger has in the pocket is he holds onto the ball too long and will take the unnecessary sack at an inopportune time. LSU just doesn’t seem to have the passing game where they can come from behind or score at will chucking the ball, you get the feeling if you get up on them by a couple of touchdowns they are not coming back. LSU has brought in long time NFL coach Cam Cameron to try and resurrect the passing game and get Mettenberger to reach a new level in development.

The running game is where the offense rests and Alfred Blue is back after playing in just three games last season due to knee issues. Sophomore Jeremy Hill may have unseated him though after leading the Tigers with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman. I see this as a 1a-1b scenario as both backs should carry the ball at least 15 times per game. Blue and Mettenberger both carry 6th round grades for this class.

Best Draft Prospect: Zach Mettenberger QB 6th Round 2014, Alfred Blue RB 6th Round 2014.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

While I have remarked that the passing game is one that isn’t near the top of the SEC for productivity, it would not be due to lack of talent at receiver. There is plenty of talent at receiver and most of the top producers and starters from a season ago are back in the fold. Odell Beckham Jr. leads the parade as he is the top receiver back after his 713 yards in 2012 and just under 17 YPC were both tops on the team. Beckham does not have blazing speed or height but shows well in the air and is the best route runner on the team. Jarvis Landry led the team in receptions despite only starting 1 game. Landry lines up in the slot on most occasions and, like Beckham, he is great in the air. Kadron Boone will not start much if at all this season but he had some very nice numbers a season ago and should catch at least 40 passes.

LSU is expecting big things out of junior tight end Travis Dickson and despite only going 235 pounds he has shown the ability to block. Overall this is an experienced receiving corps but LSU receivers have not transferred well at the NFL level and if they do, they need time. This may have to do with LSU just not being on the same page or prepping for the rigors of the NFL,

Best Draft Prospect: Odell Beckham Jr. WR 5th Round 2015.

 

Offensive Line:

LSU has the largest starting line in the SEC with center Elliott Porter and 350 right tackle Vadal Alexander. I wouldn’t say this is the best line in the SEC but they are above average and led by an All-American candidate in left tackle La’el Collins. Collins is shifting from left guard into the left tackle spot which is a more natural position for him. Collins has the talent to head into the draft this year and go a year early but I think he stays in school with the position change, just to show how good he can become at the tackle position. Trai Turner and the aforementioned Vadal Alexander are the other starters on the line. LSU has a couple of blue-chippers as freshman that could see extended time and are just a stone's throw away from starting on the depth chart. Ethan Pocic is the backup at center and the prize possession of the freshman class and Jerald Hawkins could be the backup at both tackle spots. This line looks to be built more for the running game and LSU looks to be making an effort to become more mobile with the guard spots.

Best Draft Prospect: La’el Collins OG/OT 3rd Round 2015.

 

Defense

Defensive Line:

It’s not exactly a rebuilding year, as LSU has some talent up front with proven game experience. Yet LSU lost more top line front lineman than any other school last year and the top 4 sack artists are all gone. There are only three starters returning on the entire defense and nobody up front. LSU is a team that bounces quite seamlessly from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base, although you should see the Tigers employ the 4-3 in most situations. Jermauria Rasco has the most experience at the defensive end position and the junior will be the starter with Danielle Hunter. While Rasco has the most seasoning Anthony Johnson gets his chance to start and shine at defensive tackle. Johnson had 30 stops with 10 coming for loss and 3 sacks while only starting 3 games a season ago. Johnson has the ability to start one year and enter the draft. The 6’3” 305 junior has the ability to be a 2nd/3rd rounder this year but it remains to be seen if that will happen with only 1 year as a starter. Johnson had a lingering shoulder problem last year but it looks like that has cleared up as there were no signs of deteriorated strength or issues during spring ball and drills. Fellow junior Ego Ferguson joins Johnson as the starter on the line. Johnson has the penetrating ability to lead this team in sacks from the defensive tackle position.

Best Draft Prospect: Anthony Johnson DT 2nd/3rd Round 2015 (Possible early entry for 2014).

                       

Linebackers:

Kevin Minter was an absolute tackling machine as evidenced by his 130 stops, but the only other Tiger with over 100 stops is back in Lamin Barrow. Barrow will be the leader of the defense and looks like a solid 3rd/4th round pick. The only question is where Barrow will play this season. There was early talk Barrow would be moved to the middle as Minter’s replacement but D.J. Welter looks like he is going to be moved into the middle to allow Barrow to stay along the edge. The other starter along the outside is Kendall Beckwith and we will see senior Tahj Jones on the field as the primary replacement at both outside linebacker positions. The only issue I see with the linebackers is pass defense for the tight ends and backs. LSU doesn’t seem to have those linebackers with the flawless lateral movement or exceptional range, and opposing teams should take advantage. Barrow is seen as a 3rd/4th rounder now but the top of the linebacker charts are quite close and we could see him move all the way up to the second round with an exceptional season.

Best Draft Prospect: Lamin Barrow 3rd/4th Round 2014.

 

Secondary:

LSU has produced so many top flight cornerbacks over the years but last year was the first class in some time without a big LSU player moving up (unless you count Tyrann Mathieu and his strange situation) to the next level. This year the prize recruit is not a cornerback but safety Craig Loston who currently is the only safety we have assured looking like he will be a first round selection. The only thing that could potentially derail Loston is injury, as the bug has gotten him in the past. Loston looks like he will be in that 20-28 overall window positioning himself with a current playoff team or one that isn’t far away. Loston is very dangerous after making the interception and has shown elusiveness in the open field. Loston is not flashy nor will he go for the bone-jarring highlight hits, but he is a technically sound player who simply has the best play recognition skills at the position in this draft class. Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills will be the cornerback starters and they now both have a year under their belt after being pressed into action last year as freshman. The natural talent exudes with this starting pair but so does the youth and inexperience. LSU gave up a lot of big plays or had occasions where the corners bit hard on the play action pass and were beaten over the top. LSU needs to cut down on those lapses if they want to contend for the SEC crown again.

Best Draft Prospect: Craig Loston S 1st Round 2014 (likely first safety off the board).

 

Special Teams:

Australian Brad Wing left for the NFL a year early after being suspended and not knowing how his senior year would fare from an eligibility standpoint. Jamie Keehn is the new punter and LSU has went back to the Australian country once again. He averaged over 44 yards a kick in limited action a season ago. Things are not as settled at kicker where the duties are up for grabs. The best special teamer seems to be receiver Beckham who will be the punt returner for this team.

Best Draft Prospect: Odell Beckham Jr. WR/PR 5th Round 2015.

 

Schedule:

You never have an easy schedule when you are in the SEC but the season starts with a bang with TCU right out of the gate. LSU struggled with teams who brought pressure a season ago and that is exactly where TCU excels. A loss to start the season would not be as surprising as many believe. The toughest road games look like Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama. Florida and Texas A&M come to Tiger stadium this season.

 

Draft Outlook:

We have our usual cast of characters here and LSU will have another first rounder in Loston. LSU might be losing it’s hold just a bit at the top of the SEC but that has more to do with other teams getting better as opposed to LSU struggling. You are always going to see prospects watching an LSU game and it should be that way for a number of seasons to come.

 

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