2004 LSU Tigers Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <A HREF=[PlayerNode:699251]>Nick Saban</A> (39-13)<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> : 13-1 (SEC Champions, No. 2 AP, No. 1 ESPN/USA Today)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2004 Sugar Bowl BCS National Championship game (21-14 victory over <A HREF=http://oklahoma.TheInsiders.com>Oklahoma</A>)<br><br><b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 18 @Auburn; Oct. 2 @Georgia; Oct. 9 @Florida

Star Power: CB Corey Webster and DE Marcus Spears are pre-season all-SEC picks; OT Andrew Whitworth and C Ben Wilkerson are future NFL players; Skyler Green is among the nation's best punt returners

Notable Additions: The Tigers signed the top two receiver prospects in the country in Early Doucet and Xavier Carter. DT Marlon Favorite was a Parade All-American, and OL Ryan Miller was on the second team.

Notable Subtractions: WR Michael Clayton entered the NFL a year early as was a first-round draft pick. DE Marquise Hill and QB Matt Mauck also left with a year of eligibility remaining. The outgoing senior class included draft picks WR Devery Henderson, OG Stephen Peterman and DT Chad Lavalais.

Notable Returnees: RB Justin Vincent, Sugar Bowl and SEC Championship game MVP, returns after one of the most memorable freshman seasons in college football. Spears and Webster would probably have been drafted had they opted to skip their final year of eligibility. LB Lionel Turner is an unsung element on the LSU defense, and FS LaRon Landry is the next up-and-coming player.

09/04/04Oregon State
09/11/04Arkansas State
09/25/04Mississippi State
10/23/04Troy State
Offensive Overview: The focus is on who will replace Mauck. Senior Marcus Randall has been given the reins and will have to stay ahead of the learning curve for redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell. Although Clayton and Henderson are gone, there is more big play potential among younger receivers like Amp Hill, Dwayne Bowe and the true freshmen. Look for the Tigers to be effective on the ground with Vincent, which should open things up for the passing game as the QBs develop.

Defensive Overview: The vacancies along the defensive line are most glaring, but the reserves have seen a lot of playing time. The development of new backups in the trenches will be important. The linebacking corps should be solid with Turner leading the way, and the secondary is the unit's strength.

Special Teams Overview: Skyler Green is a threat to score on punts, and there may be another promising returning among the freshmen. Place-kicking may be a rotating task again between Chris Jackson and Ryan Gaudet, and a new punter will have to replace four-year starter and NFL draft choice Donnie Jones.

The Tigers could have another run at the SEC Title if... they can erase question marks with respect to consistency at quarterback and a young wide receiver corps. Defensively, the Tigers return 7 starters but some talented young players are going to have to show their mettle early for LSU to play well on that side of the ball.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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