2008 LSU Preview - Offense
LSU OT Ciron Black
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - LSU Tiger Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
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What you need to know:
And the quarterback will be ... ? He might be a knucklehead, but
Ryan Perrilloux is a talented knucklehead and would've made the
LSU offense spectacular when he was on the field. But now he's
out of the program after getting the boot, and it'll be a fight
between Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch for the keys to the
high-octane car. The offensive line will be among the best in
America with four returning starters led by the left side
combination of OT Ciron Black and OG Herman Johnson, while the
1-2 receiving duo of Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd have NFL
written all over them. The running game loses blasting fullback
Jacob Hester, but there are four tremendous options to make
running-back-by-committee a good thing.
Passing: Andrew Hatch
1-2, 9 yds
Rushing: Keiland Williams
70 carries, 478 yds, 6 TD
50 catches, 656 yds, 4 TD
Star of the offense: Junior OT Ciron Black
Backup offensive linemen,
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman QB Jarrett Lee or junior QB Andrew Hatch
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Joseph Barksdale
Best pro prospect: Black
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Black, 2) WR Demetrius
Byrd, 3) OG Herman Johnson
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, wide receiver,
running back options
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: There isn't one at the moment.
With the Ryan Perrilloux experience over and Matt Flynn gone,
it'll be up to redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee and junior
transfer Andrew Hatch to battle it out, and after spring
ball, nothing has been decided.
The 6-2, 190-pound Lee is the more talented of the two with
decent mobility and a tremendous arm, but he doesn't have any
experience and will be the more erratic option early on.
However, there's a good upside with his good combination of
skills. If the team can live through the mistakes, Lee could be
the one who'll carry the program until Jordan Jefferson is
Hatch, a transfer from Harvard, is more in the Flynn mode. The
6-3, 214-pounder is more of a game manager who might not do
anything impressive, but would be the steadier of the two
choices. He has the offense down and is a decent decision maker.
Projected Top Reserve: Just how fast will the
coaching staff pull the trigger on Jordan Jefferson, the
star recruit with all the skills to become another star LSU
quarterback? The 6-4, 210-pounder needs to get stronger and has
a nice arm, but not an elite one. Very mobile with good speed,
he's the most dangerous option of the three quarterbacks, and he
could quickly become the most accurate.
Watch Out For ... the offense to be just fine.
There might not be a dynamic quarterback ready to roll, assuming
Jefferson needs a year of seasoning, but LSU has won titles with
Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee-like players under center.
Strength: Pressure. As crazy as this might sound for a
team coming off a national title, there's not going to be any
pressure on the quarterbacks. Their job is to let all the stars
do their thing, not turn the ball over, and make a big third
down throw here and there. Hatch and Lee should be able to do
Weakness: Pressure. Okay, fine. LSU is still planning on
winning the West title and it isn't going to give up its
national title crown without a fight. Can Lee and/or Hatch come
through big in the huge SEC nail-biters? Flynn might not have
been pretty, but the guy was the ultimate gamer.
Outlook: There was a time when LSU had a future
No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, a future national title winner,
and Ryan Perrilloux in a quarterback derby. Now Perrilloux is
booted off the team but the Tiger offense will keep moving with
either Hatch or Lee under center, while Jefferson is the shot
for the stars. Basically, Hatch is the win now option, Lee is
the riskier choice with more upside, and Jefferson will be in
case of an emergency.
Projected Starters: It'll be a four-headed monster
running the ball with junior Keiland
Williams the best of the bunch when he's fully healthy. The
team's second leading rusher last season ran for 478 yards and
six touchdowns with a gaudy 6.8-yard-per-carry average, but he
was limited this spring with an ankle injury and wasn't able to
take the No. 1 job by the horns. While he only had one game with
double-digit carries with a 10-rush day against Arkansas, he has
the size to take more of a pounding to go along with sub-4.4
speed. He's also used on kickoffs.
Good luck replacing Jacob Hester at fullback. All he did was
crank out a bruising 1,103-yard season with 12 touchdown runs as
the team's best all-around running back. 6-2, 238-pound junior
Quinn Johnson will give it a try after moving over from
linebacker last year. Purely a blocker, he's a tough, physical
player who'll do some blasting for the running game.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Richard
Murphy could be the one who breaks out of the group and
becomes the star. The 6-1, 197-pounder was one of the team's top
recruits two years ago but was lost in the shuffle last season
rushing for just 230 yards and two touchdowns with a whopping
6.6-yard average. Extremely fast with excellent cutting ability,
he's a home run waiting to happen every time he touches the
ball. The question will be his potential as a workhorse; he
didn't get more than six carries last season.
Junior Charles Scott is a
quick 5-11 and 226 pounder who can bounce to the outside without
a problem even though he's the team's best power option. He's
terrific around the goal line with five touchdown runs last
season, with two against both Tulane and Kentucky, and he caught
two short touchdown passes.
5-5, 160-pound junior Trindon Holliday is a fun toy
for the coaching staff to play around with. If he's not the
fastest player in college football, he's in the top three. When
you hold a sprinting record at LSU, you can move. Holliday was
the team's third leading rusher with 364 yards and two
touchdowns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, but he didn't tear
off many huge runs and he wasn't used enough in the passing
game. His real worth is as a kickoff returner averaging 26.2
yards per try last season.
Watch Out For ... Murphy. He'll never be the No. 1
back who gets the ball 25 times a game in this offense, but he
could certainly be the team's offensive breakout star with a
little more work. He could be special if given a chance.
Strength: Options. LSU will rotate the power of Scott,
the speed of Williams, the warp-wheels of Holliday, and the
all-around skills of Murphy. How does a defensive coordinator
prepare for all four options?
Weakness: Jacob Hester. Not only was Hester the team's
leading rusher, he was Mariano Rivera: the closer. He was the
one who ended games on bone-crushing drives and turned into the
identity of the team. LSU doesn't have that in its backfield.
Outlook: There are four very good backs who'd
start and be a featured runner at about 75 other places. The
problem is that there's no sure-thing No. 1 to go to like Hester
was last year, even though there are so many excellent options
to play around with. This might not be the nation's 11th best
rushing offense again, but it won't be far off.
Projected Starters: Former JUCO transfer
Demetrius Byrd stepped in and produced right away as the
team's most dangerous receiver even with Early Doucet still in
the mix. The 6-2, 195-pound senior speedster led the top tiger
receivers with a 17.7-yard-per-catch average and led the team
with seven touchdown catches on 35 grabs for 621 yards. With 4.3
speed, stretching the field isn't a problem at the X, and he
turned out to be tremendously consistent. Now the spotlight is
on. He has the potential to become a first round draft pick, and
the scrutiny will start to be glaring. That's not a bad thing;
he's that good.
6-3, 205-pound junior Brandon LaFell isn't exactly Byrd's
No. 2; he's a top pro prospect as well. The team's leading
returning receiver catching 50 passes for 656 yards and four
touchdowns. With excellent size and good enough speed, he has a
dangerous combination of skills. His excellent hands and
consistency make him a near-lock to be taken on the first day if
he chooses to come out early.
6-3, 235-pound junior tight end Richard Dickson had a
nice season catching 32 passes for 375 yards and two touchdowns,
but it was his four-catch, 44-yard, two touchdown day against
Ohio State in the national championship that will make him an
LSU fan lifetime favorite. He's a decent blocker, but he's a
receiver. He'll be
used even more as a chain-mover this year.
Projected Top Reserves: When the Tigers go to
three-wide sets, 6-5, 190-pound sophomore Terrance Toliver
will step in after cranking out ten catches for 249 yards
and three touchdowns. Considered by many to be the nation's top
receiver recruit last year, he showed off his speed, next-level
athleticism, and home-run hitting ability averaging 24.9 yards
per catch even though his grabs came in blowouts. He'll play an
even bigger role this year.
6-2, 216-pound sophomore Ricky Dixon was only able to see
action in five games making a catch for nine yards against
Middle Tennessee. While he doesn't have the jaw-dropping
athleticism or talent of some of the other Tiger targets, he's a
big, fast prospect with good hands. He'll see time behind
Demetrius Byrd at the X.
Juniors Jared Mitchell and R.J. Jackson will
combine behind Brandon LaFell at the Z. The 5-11, 192-pound
Mitchell caught 13 passes for 143 yards with the talent and
athleticism to do far more. A good baseball player, he needs to
contribute more in the rotation. Jackson is a 6-0, 209-pounder
who can play running back or receiver. A phenomenal athlete, the
light hasn't gone on for him yet on the field.
Looking for time at tight end behind Richard Dickson is 6-5,
243-pound redshirt freshman Mitch Joseph. A bigger option
than Dickson, he's a fantastic blocker who has enough speed to
become a part of the passing game. He'll see plenty of playing
time, especially on running plays.
Watch Out For ... Byrd. He showed glimpses of how
good he could be last season with several big deep plays. At the
very least he'll be the bombs-away option to stretch out the
field and open things up for everyone else. He might not have a
huge year with all the uncertainty at quarterback, but he'll
have a few monster games.
Strength: NFL talent. LaFell, Byrd and Dickson will all
be playing at the next level soon. If it's possible, the
receiving corps will be even better after losing Early Doucet.
On the way is more NFL talent in recruits DeAngelo Benton and
Deangelo Peterson. They might not see time right away, but
they'll be stars in the next few years.
Weakness: Proven backups. It's nitpicking, but the
passing game could be LaFell, Byrd, Dickson, repeat. That's not
a bad thing considering how good they are, but there could be a
huge drop-off if injuries strike.
Outlook: If the quarterback play is steady, this
could be the SEC's best receiving corps. LaFell is a big, fast
NFL receiver playing another year of college ball, and Byrd is a
big, faster NFL receiver playing another year of college ball.
Dickson is an average blocker, but he'll be the new starting
QB's best friend in a big hurry.
Projected Starters: There are several NFL teams
who'd love to have the left side of the LSU line right now.
Junior Ciron Black is back for another year at tackle,
while massive Herman Johnson chose to come back for his
senior year even though he likely would've been taken in the top
50 in the 2007 NFL draft. The 6-7, 356-pound Johnson is a
tremendous athlete for his size with the strength and ability to
push linemen wherever he wants to. The key is his weight. He's
able to play effectively at around 340 pounds and be used at
tackle, but he started out his career at 371 and can't let
things get out of hand. He'll be fine as long as he stays under
360; he has the frame to support the bulk.
While Johnson will likely be one of the top three guards taken
next year, the 6-5, 320-pound Black could be the first offensive
tackle selected if he chooses to come out early. Tremendous in
pass protection and a mauling run blocker, he can do it all. In
charge of handling all the SEC speed rushers for the last two
seasons, he's an experienced, smart, tough blocker who can do
Senior Brett Helms started out his career at guard
before moving over to center as a sophomore. He's been a rock
ever since as the smart, dependable leader of the front line. At
6-2 and 270 pounds he's not huge, but he's a tough run blocker
who isn't afraid to mix it up and get nasty.
6-2, 299-pound junior Lyle Hitt is back at right guard
after a solid first season as the starter. The former defensive
tackle might not be the star of the front line, but he's a
tough, physical player who bulked up over the last year and
should be better suited for the O line than he was at the start
of last year. He's solid.
The one new starter up front is 6-4, 310-pound sophomore
Joseph Barksdale, a superior defensive tackle prospect out
of Michigan who spent last year working in the rotation on the
offensive side. He's a very big, very promising athlete who'll
have to battle to keep the starting spot, but has a world of
Projected Top Reserves: Pushing for the open right
tackle job was 6-7, 294-pound sophomore Jarvis Jones, an
extremely strong, extremely long blocker who has grown into his
frame over the last year. He has the measurables that NFL types
dream about, but he got booted off the team for a violation of
team rules, leaving a gaping hole in the depth.
Senior Ryan Miller is one
of the few veteran reserves to count on. The 6-6, 302-pounder
will play behind Brett Helms offering a bigger option in the
middle. Health has been is issue over the course of his career,
but he has the talent and the versatility to play somewhere in
Looking to get his feet wet at left tackle when and if Ciron
Black goes off early to the NFL is redshirt freshman Ernest
McCoy, a massing 6-5, 333-pound athlete who's quick enough
to be a pass protector on the blind side. While he's a more
natural fit at guard, the team needs to know if he can handle
the line's prime position.
Watch Out For ... Barksdale. Jones was good enough
this spring to show he could take over at right tackle if
needed, but Barksdale is the man for the next few
years. He might be the only returning non-starter, but he's
going to be a good one.
Strength: The left side of the line. Black and Johnson
are special talents, even for LSU. These two could be first
round selections next year and will erase everyone on running
plays their way.
Weakness: Proven depth. This was supposed to be a
problem last year too, and it wasn't. There's talent waiting in
the wings, but the Tigers are going to rely on a ton of redshirt
freshmen in key spots.
Outlook: Another year, another great LSU line.
With four returning starters and the fifth player, Barksdale, a
good one, the line that allowed a mere 37 sacks in 14 games and
was fantastic for the ground game should once again be dominant.
The only concern is in the veteran depth, there isn't much, but
that's nitpicking. There are more all-stars waiting for their
chance to shine.
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