A year removed from the program's first national title in 45 years, some folks believe the Tigers haven't played up to their full potential in a year that has been tabbed by some as a season lost.
While this has been hashed and re-hashed about a thousand times on radio talk shows and on the Internet, it is worth examining (briefly) one last time.
Taking a brief glimpse at the stat book, LSU is running parallel to what it did a year ago (statistically). The Tigers rank among the top five in the nation in defense – third to be exact (249 yards per game) – rank fourth against the pass, 11th versus the run and are 10th in scoring defense.
While many will say the defense doesn't hold a candle to last season's unit that may be true due to the fact there are some new players on this season's defense. But the numbers are fairly similar to those of a year.
Offensively, the Tigers may not be as productive as their predecessors. But in terms of Division I-A stats, LSU's offensive team ranks above average – actually 41st in the country- with 388 yards per game. The emphasis has been placed on the rotation at quarterback and the fact that that situation never was solidified, plus the absence of the big-time offensive playmaker.
While Joseph Addai has shown flashes of brilliance, this team lacks a Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson or Justin Vincent of a year ago.
At any rate, despite all of the above comparisons and feeling that this season is a wash, the Tigers stand 7-2 overall, have a shot at going 9-2 (10-2 with a bowl game) and could go undefeated at home for the first time since Bert Jones and the boys posted a 7-0 mark in 1972. If LSU goes 10-2 this year that should be an acceptable follow-up to last season's banner season and would mark just the eighth time in the history of the program that a Tiger team won 10 games.
Actually, 10 wins this year would be the third time in the last four seasons.
While this team has lacked the offensive fireworks of the 2001 Rohan Davey led team and the suffocating vice of the Chad Lavalais led defense of a year ago, one thing this team has shown is heart.
A 10-9 loss at Auburn was a heartbreaker, but as we watch the Tigers rip through the competition en route to what this writer hopes is a shot at a national title, a one-point defeat on the Plains doesn't look so bad.
The 45-16 pounding on the road at Georgia was the killer as hopes of a repeat national championship or even a shot at returning to the SEC title game in Atlanta were all but lost.
But give credit to Nick Saban's Tigers for holding their chins up and moving forward. While things have looked a bit shaky at times this season, LSU has managed to come from behind in four games and post victories when it looked as if they were surely beaten. One can only reflect in horror to the 1998 season LSU last close game after close game with Gerry DiNardo at the helm.
One can see there is a different air about this team as when they were losing to Oregon State, Troy and Alabama at home as well as Florida on the road, this team never said die.
Speaking of the Alabama game on Saturday, wasn't it nice to finally attend a football game when it felt like football weather. Temperatures in the low 50s made for a nice afternoon and cool evening in Tiger Stadium – a full Tiger Stadium at that.
For the first time all season long, it felt like football in Death Valley – the weather, the atmosphere, the electricity was in the air.
Make sure you get out to see this weekend's contest with Ole Miss and send this Tiger team on its way to Arkansas with an 8-2 record and a New Year's Day bowl game in its sights.
DEVILLE: What's wrong with this team - NOTHING!
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