BATON ROUGE--Expectations could not be higher in Baton Rouge this season for the LSU football program. Although LSU is coming off a 13-1 season, the Tigers are more favored this year to get to the national title game down in South Florida than they were a year ago when they got beat by Alabama in the BCS title game in New Orleans.
“That loss still leaves us wanting more,” said LSU Coach Les Miles.
“Our guys are motivated for the start of practice and we look forward to competing at a high level every week of the season.”
The Tigers bring back 13 starters from their 2011 SEC title team with seven players back on offense and six players back on defense.
And perhaps the player who is getting the most attention for the Tigers at the start of practice is a player that has not played much in Purple and Gold.
Enter Zach Mettenberger. For the first time since the 2007 college football season the LSU Tigers are settled at the quarterback position.
Mettenberger was one of the starting QBs at the University of Georgia. An off-field incident landed him in trouble with the law. Mettenberger was kicked off the UGA team and forced to go the JUCO route.
Mettenberger starts the season as the Tigers' clear cut Number 1 QB. And Stephen Rivers is penciled in as his back-up as fall camp begins. The Tigers are five deep at the RB position with Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hillard and Terrance MaGee. And you can add another big name to the Tigers backfield in RB Jeremy Hill.
Hill was one of the nation's most sought-after running backs coming out of Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge a few years ago. After being arrested, he was forced to put his college football career on hold. So now you can say that LSU is six deep at RB.
One area that Tigers fans are looking at as camp opens is at wide receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. is back after having an incredible freshman season and Russell Sheppard returns as well. Former Lutcher standout Jarvis Landry should play well and Kadron Boone is also back.
The Tigers are stout on the O-Line with four of five starters back, including Alex Hurst who has been named to several pre-season all-conference teams. Of course, the Tigers defense could be even better this season as well.
Not often does a team lose a top six pick in the NFL Draft in consecutive years and the defense is better than it was prior. That has been the case for the Bayou Bengals Defense. After Losing Patrick Peterson and Morris Caliborne in back to back years to the NFL draft, Tigers Defensive Coordinator John Chavis has not skipped a beat so to speak.
The Tigers are loaded and once again depth at all positions is solid across the board for LSU. The Tigers have big names back like Mingo, Minter, Montgomery, Mathieu, Reed and Logan. And the depth in the interior defensive line is perhaps the deepest in the program's history.
Several players will be able to be rotated in and out of the Tigers D-Line this season. Anthony Johnson, Bennie Logan, Mickey Johnson, Ego Ferguson, Josh Downs and Quentin Thomas make up the nation’s most talented and skilled interior defensive line.
Of course, the third and sometimes most important phase of the game is special teams. And the Tigers are stocked in all areas there as well.
The return of kicker Drew Alleman and punter Brad Wing give the Tigers a boost in the kicking game. And one of the premier punt returners in the game today is Mathieu among several others who can return punts and or kicks. This gives LSU depth at those positions.
So as the Tigers report to camp, the fine-tuning and improvement they can achieve during the month of August could be a big factor if they are to repeat as Southeastern Conference Champions. And win their third national title in ten years.