Our weekly look at MSU’s 2013 football schedule sees the Bulldogs get back into SEC play with the second of four consecutive home games. LSU has won 13 consecutive games in this series, the last MSU win coming in 1999 in Starkville.
LSU Tigers (Oct. 5, in Starkville)
• Conference: SEC
• 2012 record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC, T-2nd Western Division)
• Final ranking: No. 14 AP, No. 12 coaches
• Coach: Les Miles (85-21, eight seasons)
• Returning starters: 13 (8 offense, 5 defense)
• Last meeting: LSU, 37-17 (Nov. 10, 2012, in Baton Rouge)
• On the Web: lsusports.net
The Tigers lost eight players to the NFL Draft this year, and seven of them played on defense. Losing that many quality players is sure to create some holes in LSU’s defense, but this is one of those programs that reloads, and defensive coordinator John Chavis has a way of finding what works. Last year the Tigers ranked eighth nationally in total defense (307.6 ypg), ninth in rushing defense (101.6 ypg), 28th in pass defense (206.0 ypg), and 12th in scoring defense (17.5 ppg).
Among the many missing pieces from the 2012 defense is middle linebacker Kevin Minter, who had 130 tackles. LSU is still searching for a suitable replacement there, and the run defense could have some issues early on this fall. Senior Lamin Barrow (104 tackles) is back, but junior D.J. Welter could ultimately fill Minter’s shoes. Up front, Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson hold down the tackle spots, but there will be new guys at the ends after losing Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery.
The secondary lost safety Eric Reid, and a player to watch back there is sophomore Corey Thompson, who played in 13 games last year but had no starts. LSU was tied for fifth in turnover margin last year due in part to 18 interceptions.
Offensively, senior Zach Mettenberger returns at quarterback for his second year as the starter. He completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His effectiveness tailed off at the end of the season, and coaches want to see more consistency out of the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder. He’s got his top three ball-catchers back: Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kadron Boone, who combined for 125 catches, 1,634 yards and 11 touchdowns.
LSU could be without sophomore tailback Jeremy Hill, who’s under indefinite suspension after an arrest for his involvement in a bar fight. He led a very deep backfield last year with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns and is considered the most talented player on that offense. That offense is now being run by Cam Cameron, who has logged several years in the NFL. He’ll have a solid offensive line, which returns four starters.
I chatted with LSU beat reporter Jim Kleinpeter for my radio show today, so click the link below to here more about the 2013 Tigers.
Up next: Bowling Green