Crystal Ball Gazing: The LSU Tigers

LSU is no stranger to Jerryworld - Ronald Martinez

Spring football has closed, which means it's time for obscenely early looks ahead toward the 2013 football schedule. First up, the LSU Tigers.

For the second year in a row, TCU opens up the season against the Tigers from Louisiana, which is sure to be another laugher by the second half with TCU rolling up touchdowns and preventing so much as a first down from the other side... Wait, LSwho? Oh.

LSU had a disappointing season, relative to their extremely high standard in 2012, piling up 10 wins against an SEC that lacked the depth of previous years while picking up only two wins of note- @ Texas A&M and at home against South Carolina. The bayou bengals dropped an ugly game on the road against Florida and failed to take their revenge on the second best team in the SEC in 2011 as Alabama rallied from a late deficit to steal the game away in front of LSU's home fans. Cap that off with a bowl loss to a team from the lowly (in perception) ACC and you have all the ingredients of a season that looks great on paper, but is deeply unsatisfying to the fanbase. LSU recruits as well as anyone in the country, but it wouldn't be a shock if they took a step back this year.

LSU on Offense

Returning Starters: 8

The Tigers lose two starters on the O-line and their tight end, but return everyone else from a unit that didn't impress much last year. Last year the Tigers boasted a punished running game but had trouble passing the ball with consistency, and that's likely to be the case again this year with the up and down play of Zach Mettenberger. LSU does have good receivers who can stretch the field and their new offensive coordinator likes to bomb it deep, but they lost their top three(!) left tackles from last year, which is not what a team facing Devonte Fields likes to hear. As a result LSU will live and die on the ground next year, hoping to force defenses to cheat on the run to open up their deep passing game. Fortunately for the Tigers leading rusher Jeremy Hill returns and he is an absolute load to tackle, averaging over 5 YPC. Expect Hill often, especially on first down to open up Cameron's playbook on second and third down.

Look for the Frogs to bring pressure from the outside and up the middle, as LSU will be breaking in a new starter at center and giving him confusing pre-snap looks would be a great benefit to TCU's chances of shutting down the LSU running game. Through the air, I like our secondary against anyone and the SEC's second most pitiful passing attack last year doesn't intimidate me much, though there is certainly talent at wide receiver. If LSU has to keep a tight end or a running back in to help block Devonte Fields on passing downs the Frogs will havea good deal of success, but pressure will be key as Cam Cameron loves to go deep.

LSU on Defense

Returnings Starters: 4

The ESS EE SEE run of dominance that has swept over college football these past few years is fueled by defense, and LSU's defense last year was excellent, leading to six underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft to join graduating DT Josh Downs. As a result the LSU defense will look almost entirely different from last year and will put one of my favorite theories of predicting teams success to the test. LSU loses a ton of talent up front, and though they have the physical freaks that only LSU, Florida and 'bama seem to attract stepping in to those shoes, it's tempting to assume that the Tiger defense will be another soul crusher this year. Still, teams don't get better after losing that much talent, and it's equally easy to predict growing pains for LSU on defense this year, especially early in the season.

Scheme wise coordinator John Chavis has long run a 4-3, but switches in a lot of the 4-2-5 scheme as well. The downside is that the TCU defense will be facing an offense that sees the 4-2-5 often in practice, but the upside is that if there are any coaches in the world who you'd consult on how to attack the 4-2-5 TCU employs the three best- Patterson, Glasgow and Bumpas. This will be a very intriguing game to watch playcall wise, and it's also one that could give opposing Big 12 offenses tips on how to attack the Frogs based on the plays both we and LSU call. I think we'll see a lot of movement and misdirection to try and prey on the inexperience of the LSU line, as well as a load of play action to test LSU's new secondary.

LSU Special Teams

Most teams won't get a special teams mention, but LSU had the Australian Puntasaurus Brad Wing declare early for the NFL draft as well, so we've got that going for us.

This game will be the most important of the season for the Frogs poll wise, so win or lose it's important that we put on a good show. The world will be watching when we play LSU, and I think we match up pretty well with them.

Go Frogs.

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