2012 LSU Tigers Football Preview

LSU Tigers
Head Coach: Les Miles
2011 Record: 13-1 overall, 9-1 SEC West
2011 Bowl Result: Lost BCS Championship Game 21-0 to Alabama
Odds to Win SEC West: 8/5
Odds to Win SEC Championship Game: 2/1
Odds to Win 2013 BCS Championship Game: 6/1
Over Under Regular Season Wins: Over 10 -135 / under +105
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada

LSU came up one win short last year as they lost to rival Alabama in the BCS Championship game. The Tigers look to finish the climb this season.

Last season, LSU ended the regular season 12-0 and won the SEC Championship game. The schedule was very difficult too as the Tigers, coached by Les Miles played 9 teams that were ranked in the top 25 when LSU played them. No team came within less than 13 points of LSU except one.

On the first Saturday in November, undefeated and #1 ranked  LSU traveled to Tuscaloosa to face undefeated #2 Alabama. The game was also a battle of the top 2 defenses in college football, and it showed. Neither team could get into the end zone. Each team kicked two field goals in regulation. In overtime, after Alabama missed a 52 yard field goal (the fourth missed FG of the day for the Crimson Tide), LSU kicker Drew Alleman drilled a 25 yard field goal to give the Tigers a 9-6 win. The win ended up giving the Tigers the SEC West title and a berth in the SEC title game. LSU crushed Georgia 42-10 in that game. Thanks to Iowa St upsetting #2 and undefeated Oklahoma St, Alabama finished less than one percentage point ahead of the Cowboys in the final BCS standings.

For the first time ever two schools from the same conference would meet in the BCS championship game. The rematch in New Orleans would be a completely different story than the regular season meeting. Alabama was completely dominant on defense as the held LSU to 92 total yards and 5 first downs. LSU also had 2 turnovers. The only saving grace for the Tigers was even though they gave up 384 total yards, they kept the Tide out of the end zone for most of the game. Alabama kicked 5 field goals to take a 15-0 lead in the fourth. Theoretically, LSU was still in the game as they were within 2 scores if they converted a two point conversion. Any fleeting hopes of a miracle comeback were dashed late in the fourth when Alabama scored a late touchdown to take a 21-0 lead. They missed the extra point, so that ended up being the final score.

This season, LSU is loaded again and wants to finish what they started last year. LSU is #1 in the AP preseason poll, and #3 in the ESPN-USA Today Coaches’ poll.


Last season, LSU averaged 36 points a game, which was #17 in the country, under coordinator Greg Studrawa. The Tigers averaged 355 yards a game, including 202.6 rushing yards a game. The passing game was almost non-existent last year as the Tigers threw for just 153 yards a game. That was 106th out of 120 teams. Really,  that was the only weakness for LSU last year on either side of the ball. It wasn’t a problem as most of the time as LSU had huge leads, and didn’t need to throw the ball. However, against Arkansas, LSU was down 14-0 early, and Georgia jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the SEC Championship game. Sure LSU ended up winning those games 41-17 and 42-10 respectively, but there were some tense moments for Tiger fans in those games.  That was really the difference in the second Alabama game, as LSU passed for only 53 yards.

Last season, quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combined for around 2,000 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Jefferson also rushed for 263 yards and 3 scores. Both are gone now, but to be honest the best quarterback on the roster might have been third stringer Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger will be the full time starter this season. He is a pro style thrower who can sling the ball down the field. Mettenberger started off at Georgia but got kicked off the team after pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. He went to Butler Community College and took them to the junior college championship game. He threw 11 passes for the Tigers last year in garbage time including a touchdown. The passing game should improve a lot under Mettenberger. Former Penn St quarterback Rob Bolden transferred to LSU, and is eligible to play immediately due to NCAA sanctions placed on Penn St. However, redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers (younger brother of San Diego Chargers’ quarterback Phillip) was announced as the back-up, instead of Bolden.

LSU might have the deepest crew of running backs in the country. Spencer ware had 177 carries, 707 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Michael Ford had 127 carries, 756 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Alfred Blue had 78 carries, 539 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Kenny Hilliard had 62 carries, 336 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. Jeremy Hill and Terrence McGee could also get some carries. Fullback J.C. Copeland will get very few carries if any, but he is a great blocking back.

The receiving corps must replace top receiver Reuben Randle who had 53 catches, 917 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with tight end Deangelo  Peterson who had 18 catches, 179 yards, and a touchdown. The other top receivers do return. sophomore Odell Beckham, Jr. had 41 catches, 475 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Russell Shepherd had 14 catches, 190 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 7 carries for 52 yards. Jarvis Landry had only 4 catches last year, but battled a broken foot suffered before the season started. He contributed on special teams, and could be the number 2 target at receiver. Chase Clement will start at tight end in place of Peterson. Clement caught 7 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. James Wright and Kadron Boone will also get some targets after combining for 12 catches, and two touchdowns last year.

The line returns five players with a combined 103 games starting experience. All-Conference tackle Alex Hurst returns as do center P.J. Lonergan, tackle Chris Faulk, and guards Josh Williford and Josh Dworaczyk. LSU has plenty of depth behind them as well. LSU could have one of the best offensive lines in the country.


Most of the time, if you gave up only 11 points a game and 262 total yards per game, like LSU did lat year, you would have the #1 defense in the country by far. However, Alabama gave up 8 points and 183 yards per game. No wonder those two teams combined for just 36 points in two games last year. There are Big 12 games that have that many points in one quarter, much less two full games.

This year, defensive coordinator John Chavis must replace several key players, such as cornerback Morris Claiborne who was a first round draft pick by the Cowboys, and tackle Michael Brockers, drafted by the Rams. The defense took another hit when corner Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team earlier this month for violating team rules, specifically the substance  abuse policy. He was a Heisman finalist last year, but is currently in a Houston drug rehab facility.

End Sam Montgomery had 49 tackles, with 13.5 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks last year. He will anchor a defensive line that might be among the best in the country. Besides Brockers ( 10 tackles for loss), the Tigers must also replace end Kendrick Adams who made 6.5 tackles for loss. Junior Barkevious Mingo will take over for Adams at end. Mingo made 46 tackles, including 15 for loss as a back-up, so what will do as full time starter? The sky is the limit. Josh Downs and Bennie Logan will start at tackle. Logan had 57 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Speaking of potential, sophomore Anthony Johnson, nicknamed “the Freak” was a superstar recruit last year. He made 12 tackles last year, and will rotate with Downs. Ego Ferguson and Lavar Edwards will also see time in the rotation.

The linebackers will be led by junior Kevin Minter who had 61 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and a sack last year. Luke Muncie made 13 tackles last year and will rotate at the strongside with true freshman Lamar Louis. Lamin Barrow will start at the weakside, after making 17 tackles as a reserve. D.J. Welter will also see time at weakside linebacker. Freshmen Ronnie Feist and Kwon Alexander will see time in the rotation as well.

With Mathieu gone, Tharold Simon will be the top cornerback. He made 42 tackles, broke up 10 passes and made 2 interceptions last year. Redshirt freshman Jalen Collins will try to replace Mathieu at the other corner. Eric Reid will start at free safety after he made 76 tackles to tie for the team lead, and 2 interceptions. Junior Craig Loston made 14 tackles and will be the starting strong safety. Depth could be an issue without Mathieu, as it will be up to bunch of untested freshmen and sophomores if the starters get injured: Derrick Raymond, Micah Eugene, and Ronald Martin.

Special Teams

Senior kicker Drew Alleman made 16 of 18 field goals last year. He made his last ten kicks of the year. He doesn’t have a very strong leg, but he is dependable form inside 40 yards.

You might remember punter Brad Wing getting called for excessive celebration last year as he ran a fake punt in for a touchdown in the Florida game. He became the first player in NCAA history to have a touchdown called back for a celebration penalty, under a new rule installed last year. He also is among the nation’s best punters averaging 44.1 yards per punt with 23 inside the 20 and 12 fair catches.

Odell Beckham will likely return both kicks and punts this year. He returned 5 kicks last year and averaged 24 yards per return. Mathieu was a dangerous punt returner last year averaging 15.6 yards per return and two touchdowns. Beckham will take over that job too.


LSU has home non-conference games against North Texas, Washington, Idaho, and Towson. In SEC play, the Tigers travel to Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi St and Ole Miss come to Baton Rouge.


The offense should be improved with Mettenberger at the helm, and the deep stable of running backs. Even without Mathieu the defense will be among the elite units in the country. The schedule could be a lot worse, but road games at Florida and Arkansas will be tough. So will a home game  against South Carolina. However, the biggest game of the season will be the Alabama game in Baton Rouge November 3. I think the game will again decide the SEC West title, but Arkansas fans might disagree as both Alabama and LSU come to Razorback country.

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