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2008 LSU Preview - Offense
LSU OT Ciron Black
LSU OT Ciron Black
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 30, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - LSU Tiger Offense

LSU Tigers

Preview 2008 - Offense

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

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.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andrew Hatch
1-2, 9 yds
Rushing: Keiland Williams
70 carries, 478 yds, 6 TD
Receiving:
Brandon LaFell
50 catches, 656 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Junior OT Ciron Black
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:
Backup offensive linemen,
quarterback

Quarterbacks

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 ready.

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 that.
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.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

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.
Rating: 8

Receivers

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.
Rating: 8.5

Offensive Linemen

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 everything well.

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 upside.


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 the interior.

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.
Rating:
9

 

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2008 LSU Preview – Depth Chart
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