NCAA Football Preview - L-S-U Tigers
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - 2006 SEASON IN REVIEW: LSU opened last season with back-to-back victories over Arizona and UL-Lafayette, both by the exact same 45-3 final. Clearly, the Tigers planned to carry that momentum into the next contest against Auburn, but the offense simply did not get the job done in the 7-3 loss. Clearly disappointed, LSU took out its frustration on Tulane and Mississippi State in the next two outings, beating those teams by a combined score of 97-24. At 4-1, the Tigers had a chance to make a major statement as they traveled to Gainesville in early October to battle the Florida Gators. Once again, the team’s offense disappeared against a tough defensive opponent, as LSU lost by a 23-10 margin. With hopes of a national championship dashed, the Tigers continued to fight on and finished the regular season with six straight wins. The 10-2 record earned the program a BCS Bowl bid, as LSU was paired against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. In a game that was never close, the Tigers knocked off the Fighting Irish by a 41-14 margin. Thanks in large part to his performance in that tilt, LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell went on to become the first pick in April’s NFL Draft, as he skipped his final season of collegiate eligibility.
OFFENSE: Now that Russell is playing football for the Oakland Raiders, Matt Flynn has his chance to start for LSU under center. Flynn only threw 20 passes last season as the backup, but he knows the offense very well and has the athleticism to put up strong numbers. Should he falter, however, promising sophomore Ryan Perrilloux should be ready. That is, of course, if an arrest in May does not prevent him from playing. Without question, the top target for those quarterbacks will be Early Doucet. Last season, Doucet made 59 catches for 772 yards and eight touchdowns despite sharing the spotlight with two other talented wideouts. Now, Doucet is clearly the top option, and he has blazing speed. The offensive line returns three starters and figures to be one of the top units in the SEC once again. That is good news for the team’s tailbacks, as players such as Jacob Hester and Keiland Williams should find plenty of room to run. Alley Broussard was expected to be a major contributor as well, but the runner recently quit the team because "his heart was no longer in it." Broussard ran for more than 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career.
DEFENSE: While the LSU offense does figure to be productive, the team’s defense has a chance to be spectacular. Start up front, as the Tigers may possess the nation’s premier defensive line. The big man in the middle is Glenn Dorsey, a senior who could be a top 10 draft pick after this season. The fact that he made 64 stops a year ago is proof of Dorsey’s dominance, as interior defensive linemen typically do not approach those high tackle totals. Tyson Jackson and Charles Alexander will start at defensive end and will be expected to pressure the quarterback. All three starting linebackers from a year ago are back, and Darry Beckwith is the leading returning tackler with 65 stops. As for the defensive backfield, corners Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson form quite possibly the top duo in the nation. This defensive unit is loaded and could be even better than last season’s group, a scary thought for opponents.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Doucet is one of the nation’s premier kickoff and punt returners and will get some help in that department from Trindon Holliday. Multiple touchdowns from those guys on special teams is realistic.
OUTLOOK: Once again, LSU has what it takes to contend for the national championship. The offense won’t be quite as productive as last season, but the Tigers’ defense will take a great deal of pressure off Flynn and company. If it is true that defense wins championships, LSU fans should prepare accordingly.
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