|A look at the season ahead|
In mere weeks, the world will be right again for LSU fans—or pretty close to it, anyway.
The Tigers are back at work this month preparing for the 2012 season and taking aim at a second national championship in the Les Miles era.
To get back to that stage—this time the BCS National Championship Game will be in Miami—and repay Alabama for a tough 2011 BCS title game loss, LSU doesn’t have to reload much. And the one spot where the Tigers will make their biggest change is one most fans will agree is sorely in need of fresh blood.
That spot is quarterback, of course, with talented junior Zach Mettenberger taking the reins of an offense that often sputtered at the end of last season under Jordan Jefferson.
The strong-armed Mettenberger should give the Tigers a formidable passing attack that opens things up for an intimidating stable of running backs: Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard. Former Redemptorist star Jeremy Hill joins that group after sitting out last season to deal with an arrest from his senior year of high school.
Besides Mettenberger, most of the offense returns intact, with sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk and former five-star recruit La’el Collins—also from Redemptorist—poised to battle for the job opening on the offensive line.
Two big holes for the Tigers to plug are at the top receiver spot, where Rueben Randle started, and in the secondary, where Morris Claiborne departed after his junior season for the NFL.
The LSU receiving corps has plenty of talent with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry back as sophomores and senior Russell Shepard back for his final season. Claiborne’s exit is a jolt, but Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid are still around to anchor the talented Tigers secondary, and junior Tharold Simon is the next in line to step in as a lock-down cover man at corner.
LSU fans can also look forward to solid special teams play thanks to the right leg of punter Brad Wing. He crashed onto the national scene last year and will be an even more valuable weapon this year.
Football will be here before long, and this season all will be another thrill ride as the Tigers take their best shot at national championship glory.
Predicted Record: 11-1
Key Game: The LSU/Alabama rivalry reached a new boiling point with two games a year ago—one Tigers fans remember fondly, the other, not so much—and both LSU and Alabama will be national championship contenders again, so their primetime match-up Nov. 3 should have massive implications in the final month of the season.
But also keep an eye on a crucial home game against a talented South Carolina team and a road trip to face new SEC foe Texas A&M in back-to-back weeks in October.
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