If you listened to the podcast, you probably wondered to yourself, "Self... I wonder what is Poseur smoking? Because no one can be that high on the Tigers right now."
Well, I am. At the risk of sounding like a homer and also angering the gods of weaux-fing, I truly believe LSU is going to have a win total in the double digits, contend for the West title, and finish in the top ten. Now, seasons aren't written in stone, and of course this team could have another "mediocre" nine win campaign, but I'm feeling strangely optimistic this season. Maybe it's just residual wedding bliss, or maybe I'm on to something. My reasoning after the jump...
- 1. Talent. The crazy thing about the "Miles is winning with Saban's talent" meme is that Miles has continually hauled in great recruiting classes. Everywhere you look on the roster, there is highly touted talent. Is there another team you would straight up trade rosters with? Maybe Texas, maybe Alabama, maybe Florida. But that's about it. LSU is loaded. Of course, there was talent last year and the team won nine games. Yes, but now we have...
- 2. Leadership. I think we overlook not only how much talent left after 2007, but how many team leaders. That was a senior laden team. Not to take shots at the recently departed upperclassmen, but there was a bit of a leadership void the last two years. Now, Patrick Peterson is not just our best player, he's an upperclassmen, comfortable with the leadership role he's partly avoided. Our quarterback isn't a wide-eyed teenager anymore, Jordan Jefferson is now a returning starter, and willing and able to take the mantle of leader of the offense. Our "quarterback" on defense is Kelvin Sheppard, a senior. This team has strong leaders.
- 3. LSU won 9 games last year... Yes, I've heard the "we should have lost to State and Georgia" talk. But by that rationale, we should have beaten Ole Miss and Alabama. Yes, if you remove all good fortune from the team last season, and make every single game a parade of nothing but bad luck, they would have only won 7 games. LSU got the breaks in some games and won, didn't in others and lost. The nine wins were "honest". You are what your record says you are, and LSU was a 9 win team last season, and one of only three SEC schools with a winning conference record...
- 4. ... And this team is better. Almost every position is an upgrade over last season. Playing a veteran QB over a true sophomore. The receiving core is much deeper. The offensive line can't be as bad as it was last year. The defensive line looks like an upgrade. The secondary is among the very best in the country. The linebackers lose experience, but gain talent. This team has upgraded almost every position.
- 5. Alabama and Florida are worse. Well, they aren't going to fall out of the top 25 or anything, but last year, both of those teams looked like near unstoppable juggernauts. In fact, they sort of were. Alabama lost most of their defense and Florida lost their biggest playmakers. Neither team suddenly stinks or anything, but they have fallen back to the pack just a little bit. Both can be beaten. Last year, you needed a perfect game to beat Alabama, that likely won't be the case this year.
- 6. Motivation. Even going into last season, the general mood of fans and the media was that the team would bounce back. LSU was a borderline top ten team going into last preseason, and climbed into the top five before the Florida game. This year, this team is being told it's not very good. Sure, they still have a decent rank, but this team was picked FOURTH in the SEC West, behind two teams that LSU beat last season. The talk of "program on decline" and the dreaded "mediocrity" have been incessant. The players (and the coaches) have heard this talk. They don't live in caves. This team should come out firing because it has something to prove.
- 7. 2008 was two years ago. One of the biggest factors holding LSU's offense back in 2009 was, by the team's own admission, playing too conservatively. A lot of it was the psychological hangover of 2008. The offense was just living in fear of turning the ball over. Not only is the team two years removed now from the Pick Six Apocalypse, but bringing in new blood like Billy Gonzalez helps the team put this behind them. Gonzalez doesn't carry the same psychological scars from 2008, and will probably push Crowton to take more risks. It's okay, guys. Attack.
- 8. The secondary. Have I mentioned how good the secondary looks? This will allow Chavis to blitz more, put eight guys in the box, and generally attack the ball, knowing he has the Oreo of Explosion as a security blanket.
- 9. Jordan Jefferson. That's right, Jefferson. He put up numbers remarkably similar to Greg McElroy last season. Having a veteran quarterback is a huge asset, and it's something LSU has not had in awhile. I'm excited having a returning starter under center.
- 10. Why not? Being optimistic is just more fun then being negative. I'm just tired of the negativity. I'm tired of listening to fans whine about losses that haven't even happened yet. This is supposed to be fun, so let's have fun. I know the guys at DawgSports have adopted the theory of constant pessimism so anything good will come as a pleasant surprise, but I'd rather get to the party early. Expect good things to happen. If anything, it's more fun that way.
Laissez le bon temps roullez!
PS. Dear SEC foes: You are welcome to clip and save this article and then point and laugh at me if this season goes poorly. I'm quite sure one could make a similar list of why LSU is going 7-5 (I'm looking at you, RCR...) Such is the risk of optimistic predictions. But we need a ray of sunshine. It's Gamedaymas!