I cannot remember a period in LSU football that I've been more excited about the future of the program than I am now. Les Miles has risen from the hot seat and LSU looks to be a championship contender in the very near future. I believe last nights Cotton Bowl was a sign of things to come.
First of all, last night's game was dominated by true freshman! Spencer Ware, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, and Tharold Simon all played extremely well. The amount of very good young players on this team is astounding. Just look at all of the contributors this season that were sophmores or younger. Reuben Randle, Russell Shepard, Michael Ford, Craig Loston, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, ect. I only see two players in this senior class that will be hard to replace in Josh Jasper and Kelvin Sheppard. Jasper is possibly the best kicker in LSU history and Sheppard is probably the best LSU linebacker since Bradie James and the emotional leader of this year's team. As for the rest of the seniors, I think we'll be fine. Nevis was an absolute beast this year but Anthony Johnson is probably the best defensive tackle prospect LSU has ever picked up and I believe he should fill Nevis's shoes just fine. Plus, its LSU. When do we not have a badass defensive tackle? If its not Johnson, someone will step up. Toliver always seemed to be an underachiever in my eyes. He went out with a bang last night but never really became that dominant receiver that we all were waiting for. Reuben Randle however looks like he could follow in the foot steps of the great LSU receivers before him (Michael Clayton, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Lafell) and hopefully with a descent QB thowing to him for the next two years he'll shine. I don't even believe that Patrick Peterson will be very difficult to replace if he decides to leave early. Is anyone not looking forward to Mathieu being on the field more? All he does is make plays. Footballs just seem to gravitate towards him. I don't know if I've ever seen a better true freshman defender other than maybe Laron Landry back in 03.
There are only a few positions on this team next season that I'm uncertain about. Most of all at quarterback. I know how hyped Mettenberger has been and how good he can be but he's still never put on the purple and gold. I'm not ready to call him the QB the future when he hasn't ever even been through an LSU practice. Hopefully he does live up to all the hype because this season we looked like a good QB away from being the best team in the country.
The kicking game could possibly be a weakness as well but on a good note, I remember thinking that when Colt David left too and then Jasper came in. I think we all know how that went...
The only position that I believe definitely will be a weakness on this team next season is at linebacker. Its hard to replace a Kelvin Sheppard. Ryan Baker seems like he could at least somewhat replace his on the field production but after him I'm not so confident in any of the others. Stefan Francois never impressed me all season and none of the younger LBs ever really seemed to make an impact.
In closing, I believe just about every other position on this team will be better next year than it was this year. The strongest points will be the backfield, the wideouts, and the defensive line with many young players being big time contributors at all of these. I don't believe theres a more talented team in the country than LSU and with some of the commited players we already have, we only look to be getting better. Geaux Tigers