LSU’s 2013 football season was one of disappointment for most fans. The Tigers went 10-3 on the season and 5-3 in the toughest conference in the nation. While the season partly ended in sorrow for QB Zach Mettenberger and his ACL tear, it also resulted in promise for QB Anthony Jennings, the presumed 2014 starter. He showed his talents while completing a game winning touchdown drive in the Arkansas game and a bowl victory on New Year’s Day over Iowa.
When fans think back on the season, sometimes they only remember the low points. Now, the low points were there that included a shootout loss at Georgia, a late game defeat at Ole Miss, and a slaughter at the hands of Alabama. However, we also must remember the high points as well. How about the September 21 win against Auburn when the eventual SEC champs came into Tiger Stadium undefeated and at half time were down 21-0. Auburn did fight back, but the purple and gold still produced a solid home victory over a quality SEC foe. What about the November 23rd win over Texas A&M when Johnny Football was bottled up and Terrence Magee trampled the Aggies defense on the ground for almost 150 yards rushing. Then the aforementioned November 29th game when Zach Mettenberger went down in the 4th quarter and freshman Anthony Jennings stepped in to complete four gorgeous throws on a game winning 99 yard touchdown drive. And how can we forget the Outback Bowl in which the Tiger’s defense was impenetrable, allowing less than 240 yards of total offense while Jeremy Hill dominated with over 200 yards rushing, a great performance in his last game as a Tiger which resulted in a 21-14 victory over Iowa.
Sadly, the Bayou Bengals are losing key players early to the draft such as defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson, running back Jeremy Hill, and offensive lineman Trai Turner. All-SEC wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are leaving also after combining for more than 2,300 yards and 70% of LSU’s receiving game. Both had massive statistical years and were game changers for the Tigers. Beckham also did well in the return game averaging 26 yards an attempt on kickoff returns and having a return for a touchdown in the game against UAB. Landry was a third-down converting machine who Mettenberger targeted plenty when the Tigers needed to move the chains. Landry was a huge part of LSU’s prolific third-down conversion percentage of 57% which topped the nation. They are both predicted as low first round or high second round picks in May’s upcoming NFL draft. Seniors who are departing include QB Zach Mettenberger, safety Craig Loston, and fullback J.C. Copeland.
Replacing these players will be difficult. However, LSU’s #2 ranked recruiting class should help. It all starts up top with the #1 running back and #1 overall high school player Leonard Fournette. Fournette was an absolute beast at St. Augustine High School running for over 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns in only 8 games his senior season. He possesses the power to run over people , while also having the quickness and agility to make people miss in the open field. Fournette committed to LSU over Alabama and Texas in early January during the Under Armor All-American game and officially signed on February 4th, national signing day. He will join fellow Tiger running backs Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard. Another high value grab for the Tigers was the nation’s top wide receiver out of John Curtis, Malachi Dupree. This big, athletic incoming freshman will be a huge target on the outside for the Tigers. He accumulated 36 catches and over 800 yards his junior year for the Divison II state champion Patriots. Other big name wide receivers for the Tigers this year will be Kendral Boone, Travon Duval, and fellow incoming freshman Trey Quinn out of Barbe. LSU’s 2014 recruiting class also delivers a boost in the secondary with the 4th ranked safety Ed Paris and the 2nd ranked safety Jamaal Adams. Both 5 star recruits out of Texas, they will be competing for starting jobs in the secondary for LSU. The Tigers recruiting class also includes #2 dual threat QB Brandon Harris and #2 linebacker Clifton Garrett. Even though Tiger recruiting missed out on some big names such as Cameron Robinson, Gerald Willis III, Speedy Noil, and Adoree Jackson, they still reeled in enough top guys to land them #2 in most rankings.
Success in the 2015 season will largely depend on the arm of Anthony Jennings. LSU will be able to run the ball, and they will be defend better than last year. Whether LSU makes the newly formed College Football Playoff or not may rest on whether Jennings can get the ball downfield to the likes of Duval, Wright, Quinn, and Dupree.
As we turn the leaf on the 2013 season and recruiting season, we look ahead to new beginnings as an always unpredictable season begins on August 30th in Houston. See you then.