LSU Tigers 2012

LSU 2011 Statistics

(SEC) The Tigers play on a grass field at Tiger Stadium (seats 92,400)

  • Les Miles is in his 8th year as the head coach at LSU.  Last year LSU went 13-1 and while they defeated Alabama in the regular season, they lost to them in the BCS National Championship game.
  • Last year was supposed to be the first year of a new system under offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe (previous head coach at Louisville 2007-2009), but Kragthorpe was diagnosed with Parkinsons and had to take a more limited role.  Greg Studrawa become the Offensive Coordinator in August (had been the Offensive Line coach at LSU since 2007).
  • The quarterback position started on a bad note in 2011 with the suspension of Jordan Jefferson (for his role in a bar fight). Jarrett Lee got the start for the first 9 games (he had about 1/3 of the passing attempts in 2010, but led the team in 2011).  Jefferson started the last five and while his completion percentage improved back up to 61% (had dropped to 56.5% in 2010, but was at 61% in 2009),  The passing offense ranked 106th in the nation last year and did just as poorly in the passing game as they had in 2010.  This year both Jefferson and Lee are gone. Both were undrafted in April but signed with teams, Lee made the Chargers but Jefferson was cut from the Bucs.  The projected starter for this year is Zack Mettenberger.  He has some experience playing and given the lack of success in LSU’s passing game, anything could be an improvement.
  • Offensive line play led this team to the #2 rushing offense in the SEC (22nd in the nation). A key part of that was that they had nine of their top ten linemen return. The line definitely helped the new players out at running back.  And this year the offensive line is even more experienced and should really look good.  On top of that the young running backs now have a year more of experience and they’re all back this year, including top rusher Michael Ford and starter Spencer Ware (who had 50 more carries than Ford, but 50 less rushing yards).
  • Championship defense. When LSU won the National Championship in 2003 they had the #1 defense in the nation and when they won it in 2007 they had the #3 defense in the nation.  And when they almost won it last year they had moved up once again and had the #2 defense in the nation. However, the team that finished #1 last year happened to be the only team to beat them in 2011: Alabama.
  • What about defense this year? Some thought that the secondary would take a hit with the loss of star cornerback Patrick Peterson to the NFL last year, but rather the defensive backs stepped up and led the team in tackling.  The four starting DB’s all finished in the top 5 in the team in tackles in 2010, including Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and Morris Claiborne, who all returned last year and led to a dominating passing defense (2nd only to Alabama, who somehow allowed 50 yards less per game). The defensive line returns the most players of any unit so should be able to continue with their incredible numbers from last year. They will need to do well to make up for the players this team loses at linebacker and defensive back though.  And even with the top two tacklers on the team being defensive backs and both returning (Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid), they won’t have the presence of guys like Morris Claiborne (1st round NFL Draft pick in 2011) to distract offenses.

Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu

  • Yes, Tyrann Mathieu has a name besides Honey Badger. The nickname was so overused in the BCS Championship game that I’m pretty sure Brent Musburger had some sort of compensation tie-in based on how many times he said it.  Mathieu was a game changer in 2011, thanks in part to his punt return game, which included 4 touchdowns and his contribution to LSU’s critical turnover margin (he had six and scored 2 defensive touchdowns). He has forced 11 fumbles in 25 games (just 14 of those games was he the starter).
  • Unlike 2010 when LSU had to win all of these crazy, close games at the last minute, the Tigers dominated their opponents in 2011. They only had to win one close game (against Bama in OT during the regular season).  They played 8 ranked opponents during the regular season (including #2 Alabama, #3 Oregon and #3 Arkansas) and had comfortable wins in all of them except the one mentioned above.
  • This year, despite having just 13 starters returning, if the defense can find talent at linebacker and defensive back to replace their losses, they could be just as strong as last year (especially with an arguably better offense).  But the schedule is tough.  Starting in October they play (at) Florida, South Carolina and (at) Texas A&M and in November they see Alabama, Mississippi State and (at) Arkansas.  The good news is that most of those games are at home.

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