| With 19 returning starters,
LSU enters the 2001 season aiming to return to the Georgia Dome in December --
but this time to play in the SEC title game. The Tigers whipped Georgia Tech in
the Peach Bowl, 28-14 to cap an 8-4 season but watched as Auburn played Florida
for the SEC championship.
LSU will rely on Rohan Davey at quarterback. Davey erased a 14-3 deficit by relieving a struggling Josh Booty in the second half of the Peach Bowl and led the Tigers to a 38-31 upset of Tennessee in Baton Rouge. There aren't any experienced QB's on the roster behind Davey so keeping the quarterback healthy is of primary concern for head coach Nick Saban.
"In Rohan's past, every adverse situation that has come his way, he's done a phenomenal job," said Saban. "I think the challenge to us and to him is to get him to play that way with consistency throughout the season, and that is what he has to prove as a player."
Davey will look to his offensive line for protection. Three returning starters will be bolstered by a couple of defensive linemen moved to offense to add depth. At tailback, sophomore LaBrandon Toefield returns after carrying for 682 yards and five touchdowns in 2000. The receivers include junior Josh Reed and Jerel Myers. Senior Reggie Robinson and tight end Robert Royal will provide needed leadership.
The LSU defense will be stout. The linebacker corps is one of the best in the nation with Bradie James, Treverance Faulk and Jeremy Lawrence leading the way. Faulk and James led the Tigers in tackles with 113 and 110.
DE's Jarvis Green and Kendrick Allen pair with tackles Chad Lavalais and Muskingum Barnes to lead the defensive line. In the secondary, Ryan Clark returns after 23 consecutive games and 227 career tackles.
The Tigers are also experienced on special teams. Sophomore punter Donnie Jones averaged 38.1 yards last season and junior kicker John Corbello made 10 of 18 field goal attempts last year.
"We can't start thinking that we are a very good team and get frustrated when things don't go well for us this season," said Saban. "We need to keep the same competitive disposition that made us a better team last year and compete for 60 minutes in a game. Playing hard, giving an effort, and playing with toughness, are all intangibles for what we need to strive for and improve upon, because those are the things that made a difference in our team last year. We also need every person on the team to realize how important their role is and their job, relative to being responsible for their own self-determination of knowing what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it, and why it is important to do it that way." Read Article
It remains to be seen if LSU can string together consecutive seasons of success. If LSU is still rolling by the end of November, Tiger Stadium is sure to be rocking when the Razorbacks come calling. The game was moved to Friday, Nov. 23, for nationwide broadcast by CBS.
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