Here we offer our postseason evaluation of the Tigers throughout the 2007 season, issuing grades for each position as well as an explanation with the corresponding grade. Being that LSU won the national championship, you can expect the grades to be favorably high in almost every category.
Much like Matt Mauck on LSU's 2003 national championship team, Matt Flynn did very little to wow the casual observer. However, Flynn was effective at running LSU's offense and was a dual threat to throw or run the football. He was efficient in throwing for 21 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions and completed 56.3 percent of his passes. Flynn missed two games, allowing Ryan Perrilloux to get the start. Perrilloux possesses a strong arm and is more mobile than Flynn. He completed 68 percent of his passes and tossed eight TDs along with just two interceptions. Perrilloux did bring some baggage to the team with pre- and midseason off-the-field incidents. But when all things were even, LSU executed its two-quarterback system to perfection.
LSU was one of – if not the – deepest team at running back in the country. The Tigers played up to as many as five running backs per game. The offense was centered around bruising senior running back Jacob Hester, who accumulated 1,103 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. Hester became the first LSU player to top the 1,000-yard mark since Justin Vincent did so in 2003. The supporting cast of Keiland Williams, Charles Scott, Richard Murphy and Trindon Holliday gave LSU lots of different options, running styles, and a bevy of weapons. The Tigers ranked 11th (214 yards per game) in the nation and as a group surrendered just one fumble all season long.
For a unit which lost its star player for six games, the LSU wide receiver corps was a group of unproven overachievers in 2007. Coming into the season, Early Doucet was the featured star, but a groin injury sidelined the senior for a half dozen weeks. In his absence, Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd stepped up mightily. LaFell battled drops but came around, and Byrd is responsible for some of the most memorable catches in program history.
Remember at the beginning of the season when the offensive line was supposed to be one of this team's biggest question marks? With what was supposed to be a makeshift unit with two first-time starters and depleted depth due to injuries and attrition, the LSU offensive line led the way for the second-best rushing attack in the SEC, trailing only
Sure, LSU's Richard Dickson wasn't even named to either the first or second unit of the 2007 All-SEC team, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better pass-catching tight end anywhere in the nation. Dickson was the Tigers' fourth leading receiver with 32 catches for 375 yards and five touchdowns. Dickson saved his best performance for the BCS National Championship Game where he had four catches, two of which went for touchdowns. Keith Zinger and Mit Cole also proved to be excellent blockers.
It speaks volumes to the depth of the LSU defensive line when at one point in the SEC Championship Game the Tigers were playing their fourth and fifth defensive linemen in a tied football game. And LSU only surrendered 94 rushing yards. The Tigers featured the greatest defensive lineman in school history. Glenn Dorsey, who won nearly every postseason award available including the prestigious Outland Trophy, could go down as one of the all-time greatest defensive tackles in college football history. LSU featured an array of stars across the defensive front, several of whom are set to return in 2008.
On a defense known for its outstanding defensive line and secondary, the LSU linebackers were often overlooked. While Ali Highsmith was selected a preseason All-American and first-team all-conference and Darry Beckwith was a second-team All-SEC pick, the Tigers backers didn't always get the credit they deserved. While they sometimes got caught up in mismatches in coverage, it was a solid outing for this unit.
Again, LSU featured an All-American safety. A year after two-time All-American LaRon Landry graduated, Craig Steltz picked up the slack. Steltz led an LSU secondary that ranked ninth in the nation in pass defense and was third in pass efficiency defense. Steltz and Curtis Taylor stepped in at safety after Landry and Jessie Daniels held down those spots for the last three years. Replacing standout corners Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson will be tough in 2008. Inconsistent play by Danny McCray was offset by star- powered spot performances by true freshman Chad Jones.
SPECIAL TEAMS (Kicking Game)
Nowhere else will you find a better pair of kickers than place-kicker Colt David and punter Patrick Fisher. David was 26-of-33 on field goals on the season. After missing a pair of field goals in the
SPECIAL TEAMS (Returns and Coverage)
While LSU featured the most electrifying return man in all of college football in Trindon Holliday, the Tigers struggled to find a regular punt return specialist, having to use true freshman Chad Jones. Also, the Tigers gave up more than enough big plays in coverage, including two punt returns for touchdowns at
More has been made of LSU's coaching situation than anything else in 2007. Les Miles was at the center of many discussions throughout the course of the 2007 season. First it was remarks about the Pac-10. Then there was his gutsy play calling, including five fourth-down attempts versus