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papz 07-23-2012 01:07 PM

A Violent Collision Seeker(Tyrann Mathieu breakdown)
I spend most of my falls and winters breaking down NFL football players and whiffing on Sunday prognostication, but every Saturday my significant other and I make college football watching a priority. She is an LSU alum. I pull for Notre Dame. Since the Tigers have had better luck than the Irish in recent years -- and I'm just happy she wants to watch football at all -- we usually flip on LSU if there's a scheduling conflict. I watched almost every snap the title-contending Tigers played last season. And on the Purple and Gold, there is a tiny, mighty mouse-type player who consistently tilts field position. This player wears No. 7. He plays with an awful lot of swagger, which is part of the reason he stands out. But it's mostly because he is a dynamite football player.

Before we begin dissecting Tyrann Mathieu's in-game performance, skill set, strengths and weaknesses, I think it is crucial to preface with one unequivocal fact: Mathieu is the best player on LSU's defense. The Tigers' staff knows it. SEC offensive coaches know it. Morris Claiborne was a higher NFL draft pick than Mathieu probably will be, and strong-side defensive end Barkevious Mingo may be, too. But that's because NFL teams prioritize long, rangy outside cornerbacks and explosive edge rushers. Mathieu is a better football player than the both of them.

For this column, I re-watched five of LSU's 2011 games: at West Virginia, versus Florida, at Tennessee, versus Arkansas, and versus Georgia. These were my takeaways.

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