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Chad Jones approaches decision time, I love our defense, LSU overrated?

The Chad Jones LSU vs Astros question is down to its last couple days. And such is the downside of attracting such incredible athletes. Judging by his comments in that article, Chad seems poised to stay, but that's what I'd tell reporters too if I wanted the Astros to rev up their interest in the next 48 hours. Evidently Dad Jones thinks Chad's staying; hopefully it actually matters that Chad's brother Rahim Alem is a Tiger. We'll see.

Think Glenn Guilbeau knows he gets under LSU fans' skin? To wit:

Miles and Cameron still talk pretty regularly. They're close. I bet Saban's name comes up from time to time. Miles talks sporadically to DiNardo, who is now an analyst at the new Big Ten Network. Interestingly, Miles and DiNardo have rarely discussed LSU.

"Peripherally, not instrumentally," Miles said Sunday as New Orleans columnist Peter Finney approached. "He's given me a couple of pieces of information, like Finney's a guy to avoid and Guilbeau's a dog."

Miles was kidding. Sorry guys, he was just kidding.

Oh, you sly dog, you!!

According to the Times Pic, Bo Pelini hints that we may see the Tigers run a 3-4 scheme occasionally this year. I agree with the sentiments in that article though: it'll be damn tough to top the defensive output from last year, as we were 3rd in the nation in total defense and led the SEC in nearly every major category.

More beat writers stirring the pot, from the Times Pic's Peter Finney:

No LSU football team has been more over-rated than the one that will start the 2007 season as the consensus No. 2 club in the land.

Please don't misunderstand.

If Les Miles' Tigers manage to run the table and defeat someone (I know who you have in mind) in the BCS championship game Jan. 7 at the Superdome, it would not be the No. 1 shocker of all time.

But, to me, it would be more of a shock than what Nick Saban's Tigers did in 2003 when they started with a No. 14 ranking and wound up capturing the BCS crystal ball with a victory over Oklahoma at the Superdome.

Wait, what? That 2003 season came out of nowhere. We were coming off a 2002 season that finished with a Cotton Bowl loss to the Texas Longhorns, a season in which we needed a Hail Mary of all things just to beat the Kentucky Wildcats (even if it was with a backup quarterback). Point is, expectations weren't all that high going into 2003. I'd understand this argument if it were a simple "odds are against us" piece - i.e. there's nowhere to go but down from #2, unless we happen to earn ourselves a spot in ONE particular game come January.

The 2007 Tigers that greeted the media and, later, their fans inside Tiger Stadium on Sunday, do not have Russell, linebacker LaRon Landry, wideout Dwayne Bowe and wideout Craig Davis, players taken with the first, sixth, 23rd and 30th overall picks in the NFL draft.

Ok. Tell that to the 2003 USC Trojans, who lost QB Carson Palmer (#1 overall in the draft) and SS Troy Polamalu (16th), and still started the season in the Top 10, going with the unproven Matt Leinart. Ok, so they kept their receivers, and that helped. This year, we keep arguably the best front seven in the country. Call it even?

Evidently not:

Last season, LSU's defense dominated lesser foes. But it was not the case in life-and-death victories over Tennessee, Ole Miss and Arkansas, when Russell's arm and special-team moments were the difference. Those were the kind of games that illustrated how tough life in the SEC can be.

Russell, for all the credit he deserves, nearly blew the Tennessee game with a lucky non-fumble-call in the 4th. Everyone played a role in that win, even Chris Jackson on a fake punt run for a first down.

As for Ole Miss, I'm not sure 195 total yards is a black mark for the defense. Their 3 touchdown drives were 34 yards, 39 yards, and 33 yards. It was awful special teams that killed us that day.

And yeah, Arkansas ran all over us. I've got nothin' there. They ran all over everyone.

So maybe our defense could have done a little better against Arkansas and Tennessee (especially since Ainge went down early). I'd just note that that same JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Bowe, and Craig Davis combination combined for 3 and 10 points at Auburn and Florida. Is that so much of a bar for the Flynn-led offense to jump?

In sum, Finney's absolutely right that we've got our weaknesses, and we shouldn't get our heads too bloated based on that. But I'm sure we could come up with a laundry list for every other team in the country - i.e. USC's returning without Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith; #3 Florida lost Chris Leak, Jarvis Moss, Marcus Thomas, and Reggie Nelson; #4 Texas lost Michael Griffin, Aaron Ross, Justin Blalock, and Tim Crowder. Even though our starting QB has no real, relevant experience - the Peach Bowl really was a "no lose" situation for him, all things considered (i.e. would you have held it against him if he lost?) - I think there's plenty of comfort to be taken from the remainder of the returning personnel (coaches included) to justify ourselves a Top 5 ranking, at least.

If you want to see a bunch of shirtless Georgia Bulldogs diving off a 10-meter board, evidently so did Mark Richt! Indeed.

Ok sorry, to get that thought out of yer heads:

From Louisiana, but not a shirtless diving football player..