Doc Saturday reviewed LSU's chances on Wednesday and I've finally gotten around to posting it here. By blogging standards, I realize my reaction time here is positively glacial, but what can you do? We're from the South. It's hot down here and we move a bit slower. Also, as pompous jerks from other schools delight in telling us, LSU students aren't very bright and our school sucks, so I was probably too stupid to find the link until now. Instead of firing back with our academic rankings or anything, just sic Mike the Tiger on ‘em (or worse, Jrlz). Besides, academic snobbery is all the Big Ten has left. It would be too cruel to shake them from those illusions.
As one would expect from the good doctor, his analysis is fair and pointed. Really, my only real quibbles are things simply from not obsessing over the Tigers on the same level we do here. He says that Jefferson struggled in losses. Well, yes and no. He did have terrible second halves. He also looked pretty damn good in the early parts of those games, as we've discussed. But, really, he's just not looking at LSU in the same detail we are. He just can't, there's too many teams out there.
The most interesting part of the article is about the defense (complete with charts!).
The impressive numbers preceded Pelini's arrival with Miles in 2005 -- the Tigers finished in the top 15 nationally in total defense three years in a row from 2002-04, including No. 1 in both categories in the '03 championship season. A top-10 defense is normal here; last year's group barely finished in the top 10 in the SEC. Mallory and Peveto are now coaching elsewhere.
Not that you can blame them entirely: Just shy of half the regulars were freshmen and sophomores. That's good for John Chavis, who comes from somehow orchestrating the conference's best defense last year while going down with the Tennessee Titanic. LSU's secondary, clearly the weak link last year, could look a lot like Florida's young cover guys in their dramatic improvement from inept noobs in 2007 to one of the best secondaries in the country during last year's title run -- like Joe Haden and Major Wright, et al in Gainesville, Patrick Peterson and Jai Eugene are former blue chips who have taken their lumps at the outset and should be over the hump en route to fulfilling the hype with a year under their belts; as a junior, safety Chad Jones should be rounding into All-SEC form by now. But the big change is Chavis' steadying influence, and he should have enough at his disposal to take a full touchdown off last year's scoring average.
I have to be honest, I have privately compared the LSU defense to Florida's, but I was scared to bring it up on this blog for fear of it being too homer-ific. Thanks for the opening, Doc! Florida's pass defense last season was terrific, and one of the reasons the Gators won last year and are big favorites this year. And their pass defense in 2007 was horrendous. Not just bad, but "Oh my God" terrible. And what I believe - what I am ardently hoping for - is that LSU's pass defense is going through the same transition from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly. LSU's secondary was simply awful this season, and now it could very well be a team strength. The question is, are we just seeing what we want to see?
Are we just, as Doc Saturday says, buying the brand? Go over and read someone a lot smarter than we are.