It's a football gameweek here on Frogs O' War, which means that we've gotten in touch with our counterparts at the awesomely named And the Valley Shook for an information exchange. You can find my answers to Billy's questions here.
HawkeyedFrog: LSU's major offseason move was the acquisition of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who was recently fired from the Ravens to spark their run to the Super Bowl. What's the excitement level in the LSU camp for this move?
Very high. Personally, Cameron had always been somebody that I've had in mind for LSU, mostly due to his reputation as quarterbacks coach and his relationship with Les Miles. It didn't end well in Baltimore, but you can't ignore Cameron's track record. He helped build a great offense in San Diego, and Baltimore had never been known for much on that side of the ball before he arrived. Looking into the situation more, it seems like his relationship with Joe Flacco was ultimately what did Cameron in. Getting along with a $100 million franchise quarterback shouldn't be a problem in Baton Rouge.
Honestly, after the last few years, I think the fans are just excited for anybody new in the offensive staff. And the scuttlebutt coming out of practices has done nothing to curtail that.
HawkeyedFrog: LSU is replacing six starters on defense, including three on the defensive line. Given the way LSU recruits there will be blue chip talents right behind them, but how long do you expect the defense to take to jell? Is there a weak link that you expect TCU to focus on?
I'm hopeful a rotation can be relatively in place by the time LSU makes its trip to Athens to play Georgia at the end of September. There's a solid amount of experience back among the starters -- LSU's tackle tandem of Anthony "Freak" Johnson and J.R. "Ego" Ferguson could be as good as any combo in the country. End is a little bit of a concern. There are some bigger bodies that I expect to hold up against the run, but I'm not sure there's a Sam Montgomery/Barkevious Mingo-type of pass rusher. Given TCU's penchant for using a lot of four- and five-receiver sets, that's a bit of a concern. Getting pressure with four is a premium, and you never want to be put in a situation where you HAVE to blitz.
HawkeyedFrog: Les Miles is one of the most well known coaches in college football for his gutsy/insane playcalls, eating grass and occasional flirtations with the Michigan Wolverines. What do LSU fans actually think of the "mad hatter"?
It would be a lie to say that it isn't frustrating on occasion, but such is life with any coach. We have a lot of fun with Miles' reputation and internet persona over at ATVS, but make no mistake -- he's underrated, if anything, as a head coach. There's only one other guy out there that can boast a better record over the last four seasons, and that's Nick Saban, who's having a historical run at Alabama that's almost unfair as a point of comparison. And even there, LSU is the only program that's been able to play with the Crimson Tide consistently the last few seasons.
There's a segment of the fan base that will always have some issues with Les. Some of that is there own perception/ignorance, some of it is residual message board stubbornness from the early years of his tenure. But that minority shrinks almost every year. When everything is said and done, Les Miles will very likely go down as the greatest coach in LSU's history.
HawkeyedFrog: So we've gone from a home and home to a one-off in Cowboy stadium thanks to a bit of sponsorship and network interference. Since you guys have done this thing before, what's your thought on the whole neutral site affair? Does it actually help recruiting?
I definitely thinks it helps recruiting for a program like LSU out-of-market. Not so much for the current recruiting class, but for future ones. Kids in the Dallas area that are maybe freshmen or sophomores are going to have LSU dominate their local news for about a week or so, and that's huge advancement for the brand. TCU doesn't maybe get the same bounce in a new market, but it definitely gives them a bigger platform and another chance to show that they belong on the national stage.
Overall, I would much rather see these types of games played on campus, but given the need for so many programs to have as many home games as possible, often times what we're seeing is that, for marquee opponents, it's neutral site or its nothing. It's not perfect, but I'd much rather play a TCU or an Oregon in Dallas than not play them at all.
HawkeyedFrog: I know the Jeremy Hill situation is still up in the air, so let's focus on the other big question mark for the LSU offense, Zach Mettenberger. How do you feel about Mettenberger going up against the very experienced TCU secondary? If it comes down to him having to win the game for the Tigers, do you think he'll be able to do it?
I definitely think he's capable, however, this will almost certainly be where the rubber meets the road in this game. And it's not even all about Mettenberger -- this is an LSU receiving corps with something to prove as well. I think LSU will have some success running the football, but I expect the Frogs to find a way to limit it, one way or another. If Mettenberger can avoid turnovers and keep the chains moving, that will go a long, long way. If he can do more than that, TCU will be in trouble. If he can't, then LSU will be in trouble.
HawkeyedFrog: Finally we come to the obligatory prediction question. Who do you like in the game, what's the final score and how do you think LSU does overall this year?
I'm not one for predictions. I do think that ultimately, LSU is the more talented team and that if they are ready to play, they will eventually overwhelm TCU. However, Gary Patterson has proven that his team can play with anybody and feel confident in their chances. If LSU isn't ready to play their best game, TCU has more than a chance to win.
Overall, LSU's schedule is tough, but somewhat navigable. If the Tigers can hold on against TCU, the next three games are much more winnable before the big trip to Georgia. If LSU is good enough to survive this month, they'll be good enough to run through October and be undefeated for the big game in Tuscaloosa in November. If they can't, then this could be a longer season than we're hoping for.
Our thanks to Billy and the crew at And The Valley Shook for answering our questions, we wish them all the best for the SEC portion of their season. Perhaps if we win this one we could rematch in the Title game? I've heard LSU has strong feelings about rematches, but I can't remember if they're for or against.