Wednesday, September 2, 2009

8 Questions Heading Into The Season; Week 1 Predictions

1) Will the quarterback play be better in 2009? 

Heading into 2008, we know that LSU had serious question marks at quarterback.  But most figured that the green QB could lean on a strong defense and just manage the offense, make good decisions, and win games.  Well, the defense wasn't strong and the guy who ended up playing the most was not a good decision maker.  Heading into 2009, things are much different.  We've seen Jordan Jefferson a bit, and he seems to take care of the ball and make good decisions.  He's also a good runner, which keeps defenses honest.  In all likelihood, he'll have a better defense to help him out too.  So while Jefferson will make some rookie mistakes, the quarterback play will undoubtedly be a huge improvement from a year ago. 

2) Will the running backs be similar to last year?

The short answer:  Probably.  I expect Charles Scott to be the main man and get the bulk of the carries.  However I do think we're going to see a different Keiland Williams this year and I think it's going to lighten the load on Scott.   Based on comments from the coaches, I'd expect to see more of Trindon Holliday this year and a bit less of Richard Murphy.

3) What wide receivers will step up to help out Brandon Lafell?

Just like other star wide receivers before him such as Bowe, Davis, Doucet and Lafell, Terrance Toliver has waited his turn.  It's now Toliver's turn to become a significant contributor.  I think Toliver will do one better and become a star in the SEC.  I've got him pegged for at least 40 receptions with the potential to do much, much better.  Senior Chris Mitchell will be a solid #3 wide receiver until true freshman Reuben Randle takes over.  Randle will show glimpses of future stardom himself, but don't expect a Julio Jones-like impact in Season #1.  He has the luxury of playing behind star players with experience.  Senior RJ Jackson will be in the mix too. 

4) Deangelo Peterson is now a tight-end? 

I've got high hopes for Peterson at tight-end.  A special teams standout and backup wide receiver as a freshman, Peterson made the move to tight-end in the off season.  He's all the way up to 240 pounds on his 6'4" frame, and he'll be very difficult for a linebacker or safety to cover.  He'll play some this year, but probably as a specialty player.  Richard Dickson is still the man at tight-end.  Mitch Joseph will once again take over as the blocking tight-end.  Peterson is strictly a receiving tight-end right now, but he'll continue to improve on his blocking and I think he'll show us enough in 2009 for us to believe we'll see no drop off when Richard Dickson departs. 

5) Is T-Bob Hebert going to be OK at center?

T-Bob Hebert was signed two years ago and redshirted in 2007.  He played sparingly on special teams and even some at fullback before injuring his knee last year.  He's healthy now and all set to be the starting center for LSU against Washington.  He's never snapped a ball at the college level but from all accounts, he's ready to be the man.  One of the center's responsibilities is to recognize the defense and make calls at the line of scrimmage and Hebert has drawn praise from the coaches in that regard.  The silver lining is that while Hebert was out with his injury, redshirt freshman PJ Lonergan stepped up and showed he can play at the college level.  That will prove quite beneficial since LSU may want to rest Hebert from time to time due to his knee.  So the center position is certainly a question mark, but a couple of young players have shown the ability in practice to get things done.

6) Will the defensive line return to being dominant?

I'm not sure if the D-line will go back to being dominant like they've been for most of this decade.  But I do think we'll see a huge improvement from the product that was on the field last year, despite the loss of guys like Tyson Jackson, Ricky Jean-Francois, Kirston Pittman, and Marlon Favorite.  The reason?  Coaching.  Earl Lane seemed like a super guy and he was a very good recruiter, but his players on the defensive line didn't play up to their ability and they didn't get it done on the field.  New defensive line coach Brick Haley has a resume to suggest things will be much different from his group.   I'm excited to see Drake Nevis, who I think is a star in the making as well as a much slimmer and quicker Al Woods.  Keep an eye on several young defensive ends. 

7) How good will Harry Coleman be at linebacker?

Moving down to linebacker after starting 13 games at strong safety last year, Coleman is primed for a big year.  I think he's going to be the breakout player on this defense.  John Chavis has a history of taking speedy, athletic players like Coleman and turning them into big time linebackers.  Coleman will be playing on the strongside and tasked with covering tight-ends and sometimes receivers.  But he'll get into the backfield often, and I have a feeling he'll be putting some licks on any quarterbacks who try to scramble. 

8)  With a couple of former five star recruits now starting, how good can the secondary be?

Very!  I firmly believe LSU fans will see breakout years from both Chad Jones and Patrick Peterson this year.  Both guys may land on some All-SEC teams and earn some hype as potential All-Americans heading into 2010.  Of course, they only make up half of the starting secondary.  Sophomore Brandon Taylor will apparently take over at strong safety and he'll give LSU some speed and coverage ability in the deep half of the field.  It looks like a slimmer and quicker Jai Eugene will be the starter opposite Peterson, and I expect him to be solid.  Chris Hawkins will play a lot at corner.  I also think we'll see Danny McCray, Karnell Hatcher, and Ron Brooks on the field in various sets and all guys have talent and experience.  All in all, I think we'll see players in the defensive backfield being aggressive and actually making plays. 


I won't go into too much detail on the game since I recently previewed Washington's team.  I expect LSU to endure some first game mistakes.  But so long as those mistakes don't involve multiple turnovers, then LSU won't have too much trouble on Saturday night.  Washington quarterback Jake Locker might present some problems, but the simple fact is that he doesn't have any help.  In the end, the Huskies will be overwhelmed by LSU's talent.   The first game mistakes will prevent a total blowout, but LSU will notch an impressive win regardless. 

LSU 34
Washington 10
Line: LSU -17.5


NC State 24
South Carolina 13
Line:  NC State -4.5

Oklahoma State 31
Georgia 20
Line: Oklahoma State -5

Tennessee 38
Western Kentucky  10
Line:  Tennessee -30

Kentucky 28
Miami (OH) 17
Line: Kentucky -15

Auburn 27
Louisiana Tech 13
Line:  Auburn -13

Arkansas 41
Missouri State 7
Line: None

Ole Miss 34
Memphis 10
Line: Ole Miss -17

Mississippi State 28
Jackson State 10
Line: None

Vanderbilt 27
Western Carolina 6
Line:  None


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