In studying the various preseason prognosticators, virtually 80 percent have LSU finishing in third place in the SEC West. That is quite a drop after being ranked in the Top 5 of the AP and USA Today preseason polls each of the last two years (the Tigers are 12th and 13th respectively in this year’s poll releases). What has caused the boys from Baton Rouge to lose their luster, and will this affect your college football picks?
Talent in place, experience not so much
In a league as challenging as the Southeastern Conference, sometimes having ability is not enough, especially trying to assemble a cohesive unit on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Miles and defensive coordinator John Chavis had six starters from last year’s team leave after their junior years for the NFL Draft.
While LSU annually stockpiles blue chip recruits, there will be eight new starters on the defensive side of the ball and only two are expected to be seniors, linebacker Lamin Barrow and safety Craig Loston. Coach Chavis has expressed no concern about the youth, but his young players have yet to trail 14-0 in the first quarter in a hostile environment.
On offense there are seven returning players, yet only two are in the offensive line. For a team known for running, LSU averaged 4.3 yards per carry in 2012, which was the second-lowest of the Miles era which began in 2005.
Possibly fullback J.C. Copeland understands his team better than most. “We’re LSU,” Copeland said. “We have a lot of good players who couldn’t play last year because the players in front of them were as good as they were. You take them away and put other people in their position. We always have good players here. It’s just a matter of playing them.”
He might be mean, but he’s good
Long time head coach and assistant at the NFL and college level, Cam Cameron, was jettisoned from Baltimore during last season for seeking perfection from QB Joe Flacco. His gracious dismissal helped Flacco relax and the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
This does not suggest Cameron is a failure, rather, he’s old school and expects a paid professional to handle a little criticism and work to improve. Cameron’s job is to turn QB Zach Mettenberger into the star he was presumed to be when he was a freshman and provide a more varied attack which will showcase his skills.
Mettenberger has been kept under wraps most of his career. Last year in the close loss to Alabama, he unleashed his talent and finished the year strong and is looking for a sensational senior year.
Mettenberger will toss the pigskin to accomplished receivers like Odell Beckhan Jr. and Jarvis Landry and needs a more diverse offense to flourish.
College football odds makers released LSU’s season win total at 8.5 and it has remained there since.
The opening affair in Lone Star State against TCU could go a long in determining if Bengal Tigers reach nine wins or fail to do so. If LSU beats the Horned Frogs, they should start 4-0, facing UAB, Kent State and Auburn at home next.
Miles crew has four arduous SEC road games against Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama, none which will be easy. You have to figure LSU will lose two of these and possibly three.
The rest of the Tigers home schedule has a mixture of easy games (Furman and Arkansas) and burdensome confrontations (Florida and Texas A&M). Nevertheless, LSU is equipped to handle the load and a tip of the hat to athletic director Joe Avella, who created open dates on either side of the Alabama showdown on Nov. 9 to give his football program a breather.
LSU does have holes to fill, yet this is the Mad Hatter we are talking about and he has never lost four regular season games at Louisiana State University and somehow, Miles will avoid it again. For your sports pick, we recommend you play the ‘Over’ 8.5 wins.
NCAA FB Pick: LSU Tigers OVER 8.5 Season Wins
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