In some early bird preseason polls for next year, some folks have LSU ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation. While the departure of players like JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Bowe, LaRon Landry and Jesse Daniels are quite prominent, the Tigers have a wealth of talent returning to the lineup.
From this vantage point, there is plenty of reason to believe these Tigers will be the outright favorite to win the SEC Western Division next season.
Here is how it shakes out.
Ah, let the debate begin. Actually,
there is no debate at all in this opinion. The job belongs to Matt Flynn, and
the senior from
Keiland Williams established
himself as the Tigers' best running back as he closed out the season with
several outstanding performances at
But it remains a crowded cabin in the LSU backfield as Jacob Hester and Alley Broussard are both returning. And don't forget about Charles Scott, who disappeared midway through the season.
Also, redshirt freshman Richard Murphy, a player Justin Vincent called the team's best running back in 2006, will become active. Plus, Trindon Holliday is always good for a few bursts per game.
Jacob Hester is used primarily in Les Miles' offense as a tailback, but he is still probably the Tigers' best fullback as well. Shawn Jordan typically runs as LSU's fullback, and Steve Korte will be back from an injury and will be ready to run.
Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis may be gone, but Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell make the Tigers as formidable a threat as ever. Chris and Jared Mitchell will both see a step up into possible starting roles, as will redshirt freshman Ricky Dixon. Also, look for the Tigers to get the ball outside to the speedy Holliday for a quick-strike opportunity.
The tight end position isn't a featured weapon in Miles' offense, but Richard Dickson did make enough catches in 2006 to be named a freshman All-American. The tight ends are used primarily as blockers, and Mit Cole is one of the best on the team.
LT Ciron Black
LG Will Arnold
The offensive line was one of the Tigers' weaknesses in 2006. But in the upcoming season, LSU's front five will be a strength. All-American Will Arnold returns from a foot injury and will step back in at left guard. Herman Johnson slides back over to right guard, while Ciron Black returns as a starter at left tackle and Brett helms is back anchoring the line at center. Carnell Stewart will be penciled in as the starter at right tackle heading into the spring, but look for redshirt freshman Steve Singleton, Matt Allen, Zhamal Thomas and Mark Snyder to be more mature and compete for the vacancy.
LT Glenn Dorsey
RT Marlon Favorite
RE Rahim Alem
If you thought the LSU defensive line was good last season, sit back and watch the Tigers' front four in 2007. First team All-American Glenn Dorsey decided to stick around for his senior season at LSU, which is a big deal for defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's defense. Tyson Jackson and Marlon Favorite return as starters on the line, with the only departure being Chase Pittman. Don't fret over Pittman as Rahim Alem will be plenty good to step into that spot. There are some questions surrounding Rickey Jean-Francois and his eligibility in 2007 due to some academic issues. But sophomore Al Woods is poised to be LSU's next great defensive tackle. Also on hand will be Charles Alexander, Tim Washington, Tremaine Johnson and Pep Levingston. Loaded is the word for this defensive line.
BUCK Ali Highsmith
MIKE Darry Beckwith
WILL Luke Sanders
Like the offensive line, the LSU linebackers were viewed as a weakness in 2006 because of a lack of depth. It is just the opposite now. With all three starters returning – Darry Beckwith, Luke Sanders and Ali Highsmith – along with a talented supporting cast consisting of Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard, Derrick Odom and Jacob Cutrera, the sky is the limit with this group.
LCB Jonathan Zenon
RCB Chevis Jackson
The return of Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson gives LSU arguably the best one-two punch at cornerback in the SEC. Chris Hawkins and Jai Eugene are top-notch backups, and the Tigers will be able to cover one-on-one with few problems.
SS Craig Steltz
Sure enough, Pelini is faced with replacing two All-American quality safeties in Jesse Daniels and LaRon Landry. But Craig Steltz proved he is ready to be LSU's starter when he stepped in for Daniels in the Sugar Bowl. Curtis Taylor is a physical specimen just waiting to burst onto the scene as an every down player. The cupboard is stocked with talent, too, as Harry Coleman, Danny McCray and Troy Giddens will be pushing for playing time.
KICKER Colt David
PUNTER Patrick Fisher
PUNTER Bradley Dalfrey
KOR Early Doucet
KOR Trindon Holliday
KOR Jared Mitchell
PR Early Doucet
PR Trindon Holliday
The multi-talented Chris Jackson is gone, but Colt David is back as the Tigers kicker after a career season for the junior. Patrick Fisher will likely take over as LSU's punter, but Bradley Dalfrey will also be there to pick up the slack. Early Doucet and Trindon Holliday will bring back kicks and punts.