(Returning starters: 5 | Offense: Multiple)
|Randall will be making his first start since the 2003 Cotton Bowl.|
Despite losing the efficient and effective Matt Mauck Tiger fans are optimistic about their new quarterbacks in 2004. It was a three horse race in spring and fall camp as senior Marcus Randall and redshirt freshmen JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn battled for the starting job.
Randall came out on top and will make his first start since the 2003 Cotton Bowl. He is 114 of 223 for 1,583 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions in 22 contests. He has started six games at LSU going 2-4 during those games. Four of his starts have been on the road and Saturday’s contest will be only the third start for Randall in Tiger Stadium. He is 1-1 when starting at home. Marcus is a dangerous scrambler and good on the run.
Randall will have to work hard to keep his starting spot as Nick Saban will not hesitate to play Russell or Flynn if Randall is not producing. Russell is the largest of the quarterbacks, is more of a drop back quarterback and has a cannon for an arm. Flynn is comfortable throwing in the pocket or on the run and is the most accurate of the bunch.
Sophomore Justin Vincent returns after an outstanding freshman season in which he rushed for 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns, including 117 yards and one score against Oklahoma in the National Championship game – a performance good enough for MVP honors. He was also named the MVP of the SEC Championship Game after tearing up the field for 201 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia.
Vincent improved as the year went on rushing for 100 or more yards in the last four games of the season. His performance earned him Freshman All-America honors and a spot on the All-SEC team. This year Vincent has numerous preseason honors and is on the Walter Camp, Maxwell, and Doak Walker watch lists.
|Vincent was MVP in the Sugar Bowl and the SEC Championship Game.|
The talented back is comfortable in-between or outside the tackles and possesses soft hands. He caught eight passes for 80 yards last year and could be used more through the air to help Randall gain confidence.
Junior Joseph Addai and sophomore Alley Broussard will split time behind Vincent. Addai rushed for 520 yards and two touchdowns and is considered the Tigers best third down back. He has good field vision and a nice blend of speed and power. Broussard (389, 4 TDs) is a bruiser who prefers to stay in-between the tackles and is used in short yardage situations.
Junior Kevin Steltz returns as LSU’s staring fullback and is primarily used for blocking. He did not catch a pass in 2003. Freshman Jacob Nester sits behind Steltz and gives the coaches a player who is a threat on the ground and through the air.
|Wilkerson is a Rimington Trophy candidate.|
All-America and All-SEC players dominate one of the best offensive lines in the country. The squad is led by senior center Ben Wilkerson who started all 14 games last season earning second-team All-America honors. Wilkerson is a Rimington Trophy candidate and one of the better centers in the country.
To the left of Wilkerson is junior left guard Rudy Niswanger who fought off Terrell McGill for the starting spot. Covering the left end is pre-season All-America left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth is disciplined and effective as he has given up just five sacks while being whistled for just 13 penalties in his 27-game collegiate career. He has started every game over the last two years.
On the right side of the ball sits redshirt freshman guard Will Arnold and junior tackle Nate Livings. Livings started 10 games in 2003 before missing four games halfway through the year due to a knee injury. If Livings stays healthy he could be an All-SEC selection. Junior Brandon Washington, a converted defensive lineman, sophomore Brian Johnson and McGill add talented depth to an offensive line that averages over 310 pounds.
Blocking is the primary concern for the LSU tight ends and a pair of experienced players return for the 2004 campaign. Junior David Jones did the majority of the offensive work catching 13 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown. The John Mackey Award candidate is a fierce blocker and is a preseason All-SEC selection by several publications. Sophomore Keith Zinger (3 receptions, 31 yds) will give Jones a breather.
|Green will be one of Randall's favorite targets.|
Replacing the Tigers two leading receivers will be a difficult task. Gone are 1,940 yards and 21 touchdowns, leadership and experience. Luckily the explosive Skyler Green returns after grabbing 48 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns. Green is consistent as he grabbed at least two passes in all 14 of LSU’s games in ’03. The speedy player can lineup anywhere and will be one of Randall’s favorite targets in 2004. Green has caught at least one pass in 17 straight games.
Sophomore Dwayne Bowe and junior David Jones join Green on the starting line. Bowe, considered the Tigers most physical receiver, added nine receptions for 106 yards while Jones added 13 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown last year. Sophomores Craig Davis (7 receptions, 63 yds) and Keith Zinger including highly touted freshman Early Doucet will also contribute.
Running back Joseph Addai will also see time at receiver as well as standout cornerback Corey Webster.
Notes on the offense:
- The 2003 Tiger offense set school records for points (475), first downs (298), and touchdowns scored (54) last year.
- The offensive line gave up only 22 sacks all season. They held their opponents without a sack in the last five of six contests.
- The Tigers have held their opponents to 20 points or less 32 times under