Position coach: Ron Cooper
Starters returning: 2
Lettermen returning: 5
18 Brandon Taylor (6-0, 194, Sr.)
1 Eric Reid (6-2, 212, So.)
OFF THE BENCH
6 Craig Loston (6-2, 208, So.)
36 Derrick Bryant (5-11, 195, Sr.)
29 Sam Gibson (6-1, 203, RS Fr.)
28 Ronnie Vinson (5-11, 185, RS Fr.)
40 Rockey Duplessis (6-1, 209, So.)
32 Ronald Martin (6-1, 199, Fr.)
34 Micah Eugene (5-11, 194, Fr.)
Out of action: None
Veteran difference-maker: Brandon Taylor
Rising star: Sophomore Eric Reid
Something to chew on: Taylor and Reid got the starting nod from Miles, but don’t sleep on Loston. Miles called Loston the best performer in a fall scrimmage – twice. Interceptions and big hits were the norm, and Loston’s teammates talked about how far the former five-star prospect has come since last year. This could be his time to break through.
Numbers of note: The jersey number 18. It’s one of the most recent LSU traditions, and it’s symbolizes the player that best represents what it means to be a Tiger. Matt Mauck, Jacob Hester, Richard Dickson and Richard Murphy all wore the number. Now it’s on the back of Taylor – the lone senior defensive back.
This unit will shine if: Reid and Loston are as good as billed. Both showed promise in 2010, but now they will be featured in a much more prominent role. The defensive backs are being called the best unit on the team. A lot of that talk is confidence in the futures of Reid and Loston.
This unit will struggle if: Injuries bite again. Last year Taylor went down for the season, and the freshman Reid was quickly rushed into more action. The Tigers have more depth now with the development of Loston, but beyond that there are unproven names. If defensive backs coach Ron Cooper can keep a rotation Taylor-Loston-Reid, then all will be well.
Prediction: The cornerbacks will lock down opposing receivers and the speed ends – like Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo – will keep quarterbacks from hanging out in the pocket for too long. These safeties will have room to roam, and they will make the most of it. Look for the group to live up to expectations.
Quotable: “Probably so. From a speed standpoint there’s no question, and in terms of having guys who can truly go out and play press man and you aren’t concerned about matchups, I think by far. Now we’ve had some very talented teams, and we were very talented last year and the year before, but I think we’ve got more depth in the secondary than any I’ve been around.” – John Chavis when asked if this secondary was the most talented he’s ever coached