Spring football is over. Recruiting for 2008 is over. Where do the defending national champions stand?
QB. Difficult to tell, but certainly all is not lost. We know for a fact that Perrilloux can play in pressure - vis-a-vis the Tennessee game. And pressure will continue to follow him all the way into the NFL (maybe). But what is interesting is that this spring has shown that Jarrett Lee (RSFr) was a good recruiting "get" and Andrew Hatch (xfer Jr) might be one of the most surprising members of the team. Both Lee and Hatch looked pretty good in the Spring Game, and Hatch surprisingly so. Of course, the offense they are leading is VERY powerful. But neither QB looked like a limitation to that power. If Perrilloux remains in Coach Miles' good graces over the summer, I think the QB situation is amazingly good. Jordan Jefferson will be able to redshirt, and let's just say that he has PLENTY of talent committed to back him up in years to come. If Perrilloux does NOT stay out of the dog house, then at least we know we have something to build with through the first three games. PREDICTION: Perrilloux has a great Jr. season and gets some Heisman buzz.
RB. There is a wealth of talent in the backfield. The biggest story out of the spring by far was Richard Murphy, who burned up the Spring Game. Murphy is fast and tough to tackle in space. Keiland Williams continues to make us all wonder at his potential. But, possibly prophetically, he fumbled in the Spring Game and Coach Miles had him ride the bench for the rest of the scrimmage. Williams has the talent to be a great one. But can he wrap his mind around the fundamentals? Charles Scott was injured this spring (foot) but may replace Hester as the go-to, down for down back. Perhaps the darkhorse in all of this is Stevan Ridley who had a great spring and looked really good on carries during the Spring Game. He may be the next Hester - not ridiculously fast, but quick to the hole and reliable with the football - a fullback/halfback hybrid. PREDICTION: Quinn Johnson gets the start at FB, Ridley comes in for play action scenarios, and Scott, Murphy and Williams share the limelight. I think, at the end of the season, Williams may get hold of his fumbleitis and break out this year. If not, Murphy will be the breakout back.
WR/TE: Ridiculously talented. Demetrius Byrd. Richard Dickson. Brandon Lafell. Both Mitchells. And Ricky Dixon looked really good in the spring. Of course, that's leaving aside Terrance Tolliver (who may be THE breakout receiver this year). Depth at TE may be an issue, but that's not clear and the two freshmen (Branch and Edwards ) are both good. PREDICTION: Dickson and Byrd are All-SEC and knocking on All-American.
OL: Beautiful, beautiful big men. Everybody comes back except for Carnell Stewart. Last season's OL was good. Very good. LSU scored over 40 points per game and had over 220 yards rushing per game. You don't do that without a great OL. And they're all back except Stewart, who was a leader, but not THE leader and has some talented backups stacked up to take his place. NOT worried. PREDICTION: This is likely the best OL in the SEC, which means it's likely the best in the nation.
LB. I'm already missing Ali Highsmith and Luke Sanders. I have no doubt that Darry Beckwith can lead the LB corps, but there are clearly questions. Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera both sat out the Spring Game with injuries. Ace Foyil and Kelvin Sheppard looked good, and true freshman Kelvin Theriot was impressive for a kid whose buds are looking forward to the senior prom, but none of that made it clear that the huge vacancies left by Highsmith and Sanders will be adequately filled. I think the potential is there, but the questions remain. PREDICTION: Beckwith is All-SEC and possibly All-American, but the other two spots see a rotation all year until the end of conference play.
CB: There's just no way to know about LSU cornerbacks this fall. Both Zenon and Jackson are gone and seem to be leaving the Tigers completely helpless. However, Chris Hawkins and Jai Eugene are talented, saw some PT last year, and played well in the Spring Game. And LSU has a bevy of talent in the wings, including Ron Brooks, Phelon Jones, and incoming freshmen Patrick Johnson and Karnell Hatcher. PREDICTION: Weakest part of an incredibly strong defense, but Patrick Johnson wins a starting position by the end of SEC play.
Safety: Next to the DL, the most talented group in the defense. Curtis Taylor is back for his senior year and has a supporting cast that anyone in the nation would love to have. Chad Jones and Danny McCray seem almost interchangeable in a very good sort of way. And Stefoin Francois is going to be very, very good. PREDICTION: Chad Jones breaks way the hell out.
DL: Ho. Ly. Crap. LSU has two defensive front lineups that could play - as a unit - almost anywhere in the country. Jackson, Pittman, Alexander, Favorite, Francois, Woods, Nevis, Corley, Alem, Levingston, Aubrey...Mix and match comes to mind. There's really no downside here. Depth is an understatement. PREDICTION: Best DL in the nation. Lead the country in rushing defense.
Punting. Worrisome. The Spring Game performances did not elicit confidence. Patrick Fisher stands a chance of being the most missed Tiger from last year's senior squad. Seriously.
I'm not kidding.
Punting looks bad. As in, not good.
FG. Colt David didn't have a great Spring Game, but had a good year last year, so what's not to like. There's some talent behind him. But it's Colt David's year.
Kickoffs. Drew Alleman seems capable of hitting the end zone. Otherwise - nada.
Returners. Chad Jones continues to frighten me with the potential for a fumble at any moment. Trindon Holliday is dangerous but how long until he gets t-boned by an opposing backup linebacker? I'm hoping one of the Mitchells or maybe Richard Murphy warms to the spot.
PREDICTION: Besides Colt David, special teams is more like special ed this year. They need special help!