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2008 CFN LSU Preview
LSU RB Keiland Williams
LSU RB Keiland Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 30, 2008


Yeah, LSU is a real, live national title contender again even with quarterback issues and the loss of stars DT Glenn Dorsey, S Craig Steltz and FB Jacob Hester. There are enough pieces in place, like RB Keiland Williams, to do it all again. Check out the CFN 2008 Preview of the LSU Tigers.

LSU Tigers

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN LSU Preview | 2008 LSU Offense
- 2008 LSU Defense | 2008 LSU Depth Chart
-
2007 CFN LSU Preview | 2006 CFN LSU Preview 

Interested in blogging about LSU or SEC football?  Let us know

As college football historians look back on all the national champions, the nuts and bolts of the 2007 season might get lost in the shuffle and the translation. LSU didn't win the national title; it survived the season.

Oh sure, in hindsight it appears obvious. After all, LSU had the best team in America. Everyone knew that going in, and while all turned out to be right with the world, at least as far as who the national champion should've been, LSU also turned out to be one of the luckiest teams ever, and one of the toughest, gutsiest, and most resilient.

What had to happen? What did the Tigers have to go through to win the big prize and not just be a 50-point Sugar Bowl winner over Hawaii? Consider ...

Head coach: Les Miles
4thyear: 34-6
7th year overall: 51-25
Returning Lettermen
Off. 22, Def, 19, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. OT Ciron Black, Jr.
2. OG Herman Johnson, Sr.
3. DE Tyson Jackson, Sr.
4. DE Kirston Pittman, Sr.
5. LB Darry Beckwith, Sr.
6. WR Demetrius Byrd, Sr.
7. DT Ricky Jean-Francois, Jr.
8. WR Brandon LaFell, Jr.
9. DT Charles Alexander, Sr.
10. TE Richard Dickson, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
9-3
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Appalachian State
Sept. 6 Troy
Sept. 13 North Texas
Sept. 20 at Auburn
Sept. 27 Mississippi State
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE 
Oct. 11 at Florida
Oct. 18 at South Carolina
Oct. 25 Georgia
Nov. 1 Tulane
Nov. 8 Alabama
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE 
Nov. 22 Ole Miss
Nov. 28 at Arkansas (Little Rock)

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
11-1
2007 Record:
12-2

Aug. 30 at Mississippi St W 45-0
Sept. 8 Virginia Tech W 48-7
Sept. 15 Middle Tenn W 44-0
Sept. 22 South Carolina W 28-16
Sept. 29 at Tulane W 34-9
Oct. 6 Florida W 28-24
Oct. 13 at Kentucky L 45-37 3OT
Oct. 20 Auburn W 30-24
Nov. 3 at Alabama W 41-34
Nov. 10
Louisiana Tech W 58-10
Nov. 17 at Ole Miss W 41-24
Nov. 24 Arkansas L 50-48 3OT
SEC Championship
Dec. 1 Tennessee W 21-14
BCS Championship
Jan. 7 Ohio State W 38-24

1) LSU had to win the SEC title game without its starting quarterback.
2) West Virginia had to lose at home to a lousy Pitt team.
3) Missouri had to lose the Big 12 Championship to Oklahoma.
4) LSU was the first two-loss team in the BCS era to get a shot at the national championship.
5) Not only did LSU lose twice, but it lost in triple overtime to two mediocre teams: Kentucky and Arkansas.
6) The star defensive tackle, and the heart and soul of the team, Glenn Dorsey, was playing on one leg after being on the wrong end of a cheap shot block against Auburn, fellow starting tackle Charles Alexander was lost for the year early on with a knee injury, and rising star tackle Ricky Jean-Francois missed almost the whole season because of academic issues.
7) Les Miles was almost certain to take the Michigan job, couldn't pursue it because his team was playing for a conference title, and then really couldn't pursue it (even after his now-classic "damn strong football team ... have a great day" speech) because his team was playing for a national title .
8) Miles hit the equivalent of an unnecessary 54-jump shot that went in with his controversial call for a 22-yard throw for a touchdown with one second to play to beat Auburn when a 40-yard field goal would've won the game.
9) Going for it, and making it, on fourth down instead of hitting a field goal that would've forced overtime against Florida on the way to the game-winning touchdown.


(Exhale)


So, basically, LSU had the best team in America and needed every gamble to go right, every break from the college football gods, and the ability to overcome a variety of bizarre and tough obstacles to earn the right to hold up the big crystal ball at the end of the year.

This year's Tigers aren't as good and they're not going to get the same breaks twice, but they should still have one of the five best teams in America once the quarterback situation is settled. The precedent has been set over the last two seasons; win the SEC title and you get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to playing for the national championship.

While nothing's set in stone considering the teams LSU lost to last season, if it can split the road games at Auburn and Florida and hold serve at home, and that includes beating Georgia and Alabama, Miles will likely be playing for another SEC championship with a shot to play for the national title. This is yet another damn strong football team, even if it's rebuilding a bit.


What to watch for on offense: The quarterbacks. Everything else is in place from the veteran offensive line to the NFL talents at receiver to the four-headed monster in the backfield. The quarterbacks don't have to play like JaMarcus Russell or even Matt Flynn; they just have to keep things moving, make a big third down throw here and there, and get out of the way. Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch will keep the battle going throughout the summer.

What to watch for on defense: The line to be every bit the killer it was last year, if not more so. Losing Glenn Dorsey hurts no matter what, but Charles Alexander, Ricky Jean-Francois, Marlon Favorite and Al Woods will keep the production going. If Tyson Jackson plays like the top ten pick he's supposed to be, no one's doing anything against this front four.

The team will be far better if … the penalties slow down. For the second year in a row, LSU struggled mightily when it came to the sins. After committing 83 in 2006, the Tigers were 117th in the nation (only South Florida and Cincinnati committed more) averaging 8.36 per game committing 117 on the year.

The Schedule: Opening up with lamb-for-the-slaughter games against Appalachian State (stop it ... this won't be Michigan Part 2), Troy and North Texas will give the team time to jell before going to Auburn for what could be the battle for the SEC West. The defending national champions don't get much of a break from the SEC scheduling gods facing road games at Florida and South Carolina before hosting Georgia in Death Valley. Get through those three, and the end of October, with just one loss, and the national title could be there for the taking with a manageable November facing Tulane, Alabama, Ole Miss and a road trip to Arkansas.

Best Offensive Player: Junior OT Ciron Black. Black is big, quick, and athletic enough to become a ten-year NFL starter. He can maul the speed rushers and push around the bigger run defenders. In his third year as the main man on the left side of the line, the spotlight will be on as he could become the top tackle for the 2009 NFL draft if he keeps improving.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Tyson Jackson. The 6-5, 291-pound senior has NFL scouts drooling; players his size aren't supposed to play on the end. The ideal 3-4 end at the next level, he needs to flourish in his final year and has to become a better finisher as a pass rusher. He's great against the run and good at getting into the backfield, but a player of his size and talent needs to come up with more than 4.5 tackles for loss.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Jarrett Lee and/or sophomore QB Andrew Hatch. It's not like LSU put an ad in the student paper looking for someone to quarterback the team. Lee and Hatch are at LSU because they can play. No one's expecting either one of them to be special, at least this year, but if one of them turns out to be more than just solid, LSU might go from being a national title contender to a national title favorite.

The season will be a success if ... LSU wins the SEC title. There's no real reason to shoot any lower after the level the program has ascended to. There are too many new starters and the SEC is too good to get through the year unscathed, but there's no reason the Tigers can't win the West and have a shot against Florida, Tennessee or Georgia. Win the SEC championship and everything else could fall into place.

Key game: Sept. 20 at Auburn. It's the SEC opener and it could decide the West. Auburn will be rocking with its big shot to beat the defending national champions, while LSU knows that if it comes out of Jordan-Hare alive, the SEC will be there for the taking. If this is half as good as last year's classic, it'll be one of the must-see games of the season.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Second half scoring: LSU 291 - Opponents 119
- Penalties: LSU 117 for 880 yards - Opponents 67 for 566 yards
- Fourth down conversions: LSU 13 of 16 (81%) - Opponents 6 of 21 (29%)