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Fast 40 countdown: LSU

August 27, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

LSU

Last season: 11-2, 17th in the MRI

The good: This is the most experienced team that Les Miles has coached since his first season with the Tigers. And that year, he had to teach all those old guys a new system and still came away with an 11-2 record.

The defense loses leading tackler Kelvin Sheppard and rusher extraordinarie Drake Nevis, but should have enough back to improve on the 307 yards per game that LSU surrendered last year.

It was a bend but not break season as they only gave up 18.2 points, right in line with the strong defensive Tiger teams of old.

Sure LSU got away with a couple of wacky wins against Tennessee and Florida, and the grass is still dreading Miles' next transformation into a cow, but this was a team that was 15 points away from being in the National Title game.

Two touchdowns could have changed the season for them, and they just might find a way to get those in 2011.

The bad: In case you missed it, returning starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson was suspended indefinitely from the program for his part in a bar brawl. Arrest warrants were issued for him and linebacker Josh Johns. The victim is a Marine, and there is a lot of confusion over the details of what occurred that evening.

On top of that Russell Shepard, who tied for second on the team in catches last season, has been suspended for the season opener against Oregon. The reason: he spoke to teammates about what he was questioned about concerning the matter of a certain Willie Lyles. Yes, the same Willie Lyles that is the reason Oregon is also in trouble right now.

Maybe he can sponsor the opening game with the big check he received from all these schools.

This is a far cry from what Miami is going through, but LSU is now pressed to chose between Jarrett Lee, who has nine starts, but has never gotten a real chance to win the starting job permanently in his four years, and transfer Zach Mettenberger, who has no experience at all in the Tiger offense. And with either choice, the winner just lost one of his best options for maybe the toughest games of the season and possibly longer.

Les Miles might get a lot of flack for his in game coaching, but one of his biggest challenges will come off the field in trying to sort out this mess and getting the players who are going to play ready.

Best name: T-Bob Hebert

Trending: Up - LSU should still be better than last season, even with the craziness surrounding the program right now. They will get Shepard back, and they will probably work out just fine with Lee at quarterback, albeit with a little different offensive scheme than if the speedy Jefferson were taking snaps. LSU has Oregon in the opener and Miles is pretty good at game planning when he has some time to do it. It is probably why he will also manage to win at Alabama, pulling the Tide after a bye week. Those two games plus a trip to Starkville will be the biggest factors in just how high up the MRI rankings the Tigers can climb. It might be all the way to number one.

   

Posted August 27, 2011 12:25 PM

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