LSU Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Louisisana State Tigers
Posted Aug 8, 2006

LSU Tigers Preview 2006 - LSU Tiger Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Let’s see, should we flip a coin? – 365 days ago at this time, didn’t it seem as though the LSU Tigers were sort of, kind of in the same exact position as they are today with their QB situation?  Even though Jamarcus Russell spent most of the 2005 season as the starter, Matt Flynn led the Tigers to quite an impressive bowl victory over the program formerly known as the U.  Although some might feel Flynn’s start was a one-time deal, there are some that feel Russell isn’t completely the answer either.  The biggest knock on Russell is his decision making.  The junior out of Mobile, AL has such confidence in his howitzer of a right arm that he’ll try to squeeze a ball into a small space, a space that only he thinks he can hit.  Hence, the question about his decision making skills.  It’s more confidence than ineptitude, but that’s not enough to appease the most ardent of Tiger fans.  They see Flynn come in, not make mistakes and move the team up and down the field.  It’s not as pretty as Russell, but 40 points will win almost any game in the SEC.  And, it’s not like Flynn did his work against Saginaw Technical and Agriculture State University (STASU to you and me), it was against Miami.  But, the rub with Russell is that when he’s on, man, he’s scary.  In the second half against Alabama, it wasn’t his numbers, but the manner with which he moved LSU throughout the second half and overtime.  The throw he makes for the game winning touchdown isn’t made but by two or three QBs in the nation.  Two or three collecting paychecks in the NFL, that is.  Then, there’s the ‘prodigy’.  Don’t believe it?  Just ask him – Ryan Perrilloux.  Equal parts Russell and Flynn, Perrilloux does a little bit of everything, decent wheels, lightning bolt of a right arm and a confidence level to match.  Fit him into the mix as well, when will his time come?  So, let’s go back to the original question – how different is the QB situation now than it was 365 days ago?  Russell has talent, but the questions linger about his game management.  Flynn is steady, but not as explosive as the man he backs up.  Perrilloux is the great unknown, stressing the word unknown (he’ll say great, we’ll say unknown…for now).  There just doesn’t seem to be a definitive number one like Chris Leak at Florida.  Oops, maybe a bad example.

2nd and Seven – LaRon’s World – Watching Super Bowl XL this past February, it was hard to miss Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu.  Of course, his hair sometimes overshadows his game, but, as a football player, the man was such a polarizing figure on the champs’ defense.  Watching LSU free safety LaRon Landry for the last three years, he’s probably the closest in stature and style of play to Polamalu.  Ever since his first start as a true freshman in the national championship year of 2003, Landry has been a little bit of everything for the Tiger defense.  He’s solid in coverage.  He can blitz.  He can play near the line of scrimmage as a fourth linebacker.  He is the leader of Bo Pelini’s defense.  Sure, Jesse Daniels is a star at strong safety, but it’s Landry who it all revolves around.  Like Polamalu.  Watch Landry on a Saturday night, then watch Polamalu the next day.  They aren’t exact replicas, but when a key play has to be made, it’ll be one of these two making it.  But, they fly to the ball, love to run through people and are barely ever in the wrong position.

3rd and Three – Warning label:  Dearth of returning offensive linemen (uh oh) – For all of the skill players that return this year (of course, the question of whether they’re all healthy still hovers in the air), the offensive line situation is a bit dicey, in particular at the tackle position.  Andrew Whitworth had a stellar career in purple and gold and his leadership and ability to control the edge were key for this offense the last few years.  Brian Johnson will move from right tackle inside to left guard, leaving both tackle positions open for competition.  The good news, if there is any, is that the Tigers probably have more interchangeable parts for five spots this season, but then again that could create some unrest and uncertainty if a solid quintet isn’t in place for the ULL opener.  With both running backs coming off injuries, the offensive line becomes that much more of a concern and a focal point for the Tigers.

4th and One – The X Factor – 2003 LSU had Skyler Green.  2004 USC had Reggie Bush.  2005 Texas had Ramonce Taylor.  The common thread for each of those teams, outside of the national championship glass trophy that each earned, was the fact that each team had an X factor – one player who could do a little of everything who put the pressure on teams wherever he lined up.  For this year’s LSU team, who is that guy?  The skill players have experience and have been productive, but what one guy really changes defensive schemes for opponents?  They’ve lacked that type player for a few years; even Green the past two years wasn’t as threatening as he was in 2003.  The bread and butter for this offense should be the power running game and play action off of it, but do the Tigers have a guy who breaks your back, a guy you have to account for every single play, no matter where he lines up?  Maybe it could be a guy like Keiland Williams, used in tandem with either Alley Broussard or Justin Vincent?  Maybe it’s diminutive Trindon Holliday, who could be the prototypical #3/slot receiver with his quicks.  For all of the talent on this roster, a game changer/X factor must emerge to put pressure on SEC defenses, especially with Broussard and Vincent coming off knee injuries.

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