LSU’s expectations not lessened despite game losses

Peter Silas Pasqua
LSU sophomore Jordan Jefferson returns at quarterback after starting the final two games last season.

BATON ROUGE - After you have won two national titles in a five-year span, there is no taking a year off.

LSU has experienced unparalleled success in recent years and expectations have not dampen for 2009 despite a subpar campaign last season.

The Tigers won the Peach Bowl over Georgia Tech 38-3 to put some salvage into a season that seemed hopeless and finished with a 8-5 overall record to go with a dismal 3-5 Southeastern Conference?mark.

Head coach Les Miles may hear ruffles in his feathers if the Tigers duplicate last season’s blunder.  

Still, LSU’s offense averaged 30.9 points per game last season which was fourth in the SEC and 30th in the nation. Peach Bowl MVP Jordan Jefferson will return for his sophomore year after starting the final two contests after fellow freshmen Jarrett Lee continued a knack for throwing touchdowns to the other team.

The Tigers rushing games, which averaged 166.8 yards per game for fourth best in the SEC and 43rd  in the nation is in good hands as its top running backs return in seniors Charles Scott and Keiland Williams and junior Richard Murphy. 

Scott led the attack with 1,174 yards last season, the fifth most in team history. Williams has shown flashes of greatness but has not been given a steady dose of carries as he finished with over 400 yards a year ago. Murphy carried for nearly 200 yards.

LSU loses one big play receiver in Demetrius Byrd but return another in Brandon LaFell. LaFell earned first-team All-SEC?recognition after catching over 60 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.

A catalyst at running back and wide receiver for LSU will be junior Trindon Holliday. The 5-foot-5 speedster who is one of the Tigers’ return specialists rushed for 100 yards and added nearly 900 return yards.

Senior Richard Dickson returns at tight end after catching  30 receptions for over 300 yards.

The offensive line lost two veterans in  center Brett Helms and guard Herman Johnson but do return tackle Ciron Black and guard Lyle Hitt. Looking to fit in the mix also are sophomores T-Bob Hebert and Will Blackwell.

LSU loses All-SEC defensive end Tyson?Jackson to the NFL but the Tigers may return BCS defensive MVP Ricky Jean Francois and Rahim Alem at end. Al Woods and Pep Levingston are tackles.

The linebacking corps returns everyone in Perry Riley, Kelvin?Sheppard and Jacob Cutrera. So does the secondary with Harry Coleman, Chad Jones, Chris Hawkins and Patrick Peterson returning. 

In the kicking game, LSU must replace Colt David with either Josh Jasper or Andrew Crutchfield.

LSU’s season kicks off by traveling to Washington, who was winless last season,  Sept. 5  The Tigers then open SEC?play by hosting Vanderbilt before welcoming ULL?to Death Valley. Trips to Mississippi State and Georgia precede a date with Florida at home.

The Tigers return to action Oct. 24 against Auburn at home before hosting Tulane. After a trip to Alabama to visit former head coach Nick Saban, LSU hosts Louisiana Tech. The regular season ends at Tiger Stadium against Arkansas Nov. 28 after traveling to Ole Miss. 

After falling out of the Top 25 for the first time in six years last season, the Tigers enter the season ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press Poll. Only time will tell if they can live up to their expectations.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and LSU head coach Les Miles meet at midfield after the Tide’s 27-21 overtime victory last November. Their rubber match is Nov. 7 in Tuscaloosa.