I want all of y'all to take a long, hard look at the photo above this article. That's how the last two seasons of college football ended - with the physical manifestation of evil lifting the crystal football. It makes me sick just to think about it.
Sports Illustrated, among many others, has asked if anyone can beat Bama? Their answer includes four teams, only one of which is on Bama's schedule. And they do not list LSU.
Now, the rest of the world may want to pin their hopes on Texas A&M having another magical game in which they get every bounce to go their way, and still need a last minute stop to win. Or they can pin their hopes on teams not on Alabama's schedule at all. Or you can get behind the team that has won five of their last six games in Tuscaloosa, including the last trip. You know, the team that had every bounce go against them last year, and Bama still needed a last minute stop and drive to win.
I'm not just talking to my fellow LSU fans. I'm not talking to those diehards who have watched our Tigers fight the Bama Menace to a standstill over the Miles Era, and over the term of the "Greatest Dynasty Ever This Year". I'm talking to every single right-thinking college football fan who hates Alabama just as much as we do.
Only one team can stop the Alabama Juggernaut, and it is us. I know it, you know it, the American people know it. In your hearts, you know we're right:
DELUSIONAL OPTIMISM IS YOUR ONLY HOPE.
We don't discriminate, we welcome everyone. Just bring beer, a big appetite, and a healthy hatred of Alabama. We'll take care of the rest.
Did we lose some early entrants to the NFL ? Yes. That's what great programs do. They send people to the NFL. We do that a lot. Guess what? There's a lot of other guys on this team who are going to declare early over the next few years to go to the NFL. We'll replace them with other future NFL players. That's how things work around here.
You know what? Losing the best player on each side of the ball would hurt any team. You can't just plug and play that kind of talent. But here's the thing, we lost Chris Faulk and NICKNAME REDACTED before the season even started. Sure, we had to rebuild after losing those guys. That's what last year was for. LSU lost its best offensive and defensive players from the opening of fall practice before the end of the first game of the season. The team still won 10 games and went 6-2 in the SEC.
THAT was the rebuilding year. Thanks for your concern.
Now we're supposed to be all worried that some guys left to make millions of dollars and we have a whole offseason to prep for it? Oh no. The sky sure is falling.
We return nine starters on offense. Nine. OK, here's where we admit that our offense kind of sucked last year, and the year before, and the year before. Why is this year going to be any different?
Well, for starters, we finally have an offensive co-ordinator. We love Krags and we're proud of the way the staff and the university stood by him after his diagnosis, but there's no question the offense suffered from not having an experienced OC who could fulfill all of the duties of the job. Enter Cam Cameron, a guy with a track record of success in the NFL.
He also has the single greatest tool you can have as an offensive co-ordinator: a returning senior starting quarterback. Think we haven't seen a good OC around this place in a long time? LSU has not had the team's leader in pass attempts return as the starter for his senior season since 1998. That's right, Zach Mettenberger is LSU's first incumbent senior starter since Herb Tyler.
Feeling better about the offense?
How about a running back hydra of Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, Terrance Magee, and Kenny Hilliard? We've got four guys who could start for most teams in the nation, and here they'll have to split carries and wear down defenses as the most relentless power rushing attack south of the Wisconsin.
And heck, the best offensive player might be Jarvis Landry, a wide receiver.
Last year's patchwork offensive line pays dividends this year, as now all of those green underclassmen are now seasoned vets. There's no adjustment period because these guys had their trial by fire last year. LSU returns its best offensive line in years, maybe the best in Miles' tenure.
There is an embarrassment of toys for the new guy to play with. It's not like the team couldn't score before. LSU averaged 29.8 points per game last year. Heck, even with no improvement whatsoever, all you have to do to beat LSU is to score a mere 30 points on our defense.
No problems, right?
Only one returning defensive tackle in the SEC recorded ten tackles for a loss last season. That would be Freak Johnson, who did that as a backup. We're not waiting for him to arrive, he's already here. He's the new star of our defense.
Sure, the defensive line will break in four new starters. It's a damned shame that LSU does not have a history of rotating defensive linemen heavily to create depth and prepare for inevitable early departures. I mean, it's not like LSU hasn't recruited a ton of defensive linemen, nor has an established track record of turning that talent into successful players, replacing NFL talent with more NFL talent. Oh wait. We do that. Every year.
LSU loses its emotional leader, Kevin Minter, and replaces him with a new leader, Papa Loston. Loston's been on the Official Brandon Taylor career path for four years, and he's the team's consensus preseason All-American. One leader leaves, another one rises.
The two Jalens now officially take over the two cornerback positions. LSU plays so much nickel, both were virtual starters last year, and each held their own as inexperienced underclassmen. Now, LSU goes from one of the least experienced secondaries in the conference to the most.
But the heart of this defense is the linebacking corps. Somehow, LSU returns six players with starting experience. The team's best recruit, Kendall Beckwith, is forcing his way into the lineup as well. John Chavis built his reputation on linebacker play, and he finally has built a linebacking unit at LSU to rival those he had at Tennessee.
This unit is fast, nasty, and deep as all hell. There's almost too many really talented players, which only makes the competition for playing time more fierce. Pity any opposing player who goes over the middle.
But it's not the talent. No one is concerned about the talent at LSU, not really anyway. That's just a convenient excuse others use as they whistle past the graveyard. This team is just as loaded as any other Les Miles team.
No, what this team has is the motivation. Last year's team lacked a killer instinct. The 2012 defense kept letting teams score late and the 2012 offense couldn't score in the red zone. We could put the boot on your throat, we just couldn't press down until you lapsed into unconsciousness.
Players have the internet. They own TV's. They can hear what you've been saying about them. They can hear the whispers. They can also look at their record and their performances and know they are every bit as good as the unbeatable dynasty. Heck, these players have beaten them twice. They know it should have been a third time, but they let them off the mat.
Well, no mercy.
There's talk that maybe we should dial back our expectations. That we should settle for less. After all, the schedule is real tough and we have a lot of young players. Yeah, that's what they told us before 2011 as well.
This team is out for blood. It's out for its reputation. You can talk up this year's hot team, just like y'all talked up Arkansas in 2011 and Ole Miss in 2010. Guess what? At the end of the day, it's still LSU and Alabama playing for the SEC.
No team has won consecutive SEC titles since 1998. We aim to keep it that way.
Join the party. This is the way college football was meant to be. Exciting, full of trick plays and gadgets in front of full-throated and inebriated support. You want boring automatons bent on world domination? Of course not. We bring the color. We bring the fun.
We're Obi Wan Kenobi. We're the Men in Black. We're the last friggin' starfighter. We are your only hope. We are the last line of defense. Let's do this.
Delusional Optimism, now taking applications. Let's float this keg together.