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SEC 2009 // Deep in the Bayou?

LSU really wasn't all that unusual last year in that it had a quarterback situation -- most of the teams in the SEC had troubles under center in 2008. What was unusual was the way in which that problem presented itself: Jarrett Lee's seven interceptions returned for touchdowns.

So it's not a surprise that, when Les Miles told fans in Pensacola that he "like[s] the guy we finished the season with" -- that being rising sophomore Jordan Jefferson -- the next word in the transcript is "APPLAUSE."

Not that there's a huge difference between the two in passer rating, or any other number outside of TD-to-INT ratio, really. 

LSU Quarterbacks, 2008








Jordan Jefferson








Jarrett Lee









Both have a relatively mediocre completion percentage, Lee has a four-point advantage in rating (which is nothing). But Jefferson is far more mobile and seemed, at least to your humble correspondent, to have more of the dreaded "intangibles" that fans love to rely on but help the analyst very little.

In any case, with Miles giving Jefferson the nod, he'll be the guy the Bengals go with in their first few games. That, and the emergence last year of Charles Scott (217 carries, 1,174 yards, 18 TDs), means we'll see a run-heavy offense from the Tigers this year. Expect Jefferson to be given some designed quarterback runs as part of the gameplan.

That's probably good, because the returning WR corps isn't that impressive beyond WR Brandon LaFell (63 receptions, 929 yards, 8 TDs) and got a bit thinner when the promising Tim Molton was injured, leaving him out for the 2009 season. The Tigers will rely on Terrance Toliver (22 receptions, 257 yards, 1 TD) and TE Richard Dickson (31 receptions, 324 yyards, 5 TDs) to pick up some of the slack.

While Miles expressed some concerns about the offensive line's depth in Pensacola, but the staters look strong. Exquisitely-named C T-Bob Hebert and LG Josh Dworaczyk are the only non-returning starters, and both saw action last year. You know LT Ciron Black and Miles likes Joseph Barksdale.

On defense, the line features only one returning starter, if first-team All-SEC end Rahim Alem (11.5 TFL, 8 sacks) is "only" one returning starter. The team does lose Tyson Jackson (10.5 TFL, 4 sacks). The linebacking corps is strong, so much so that returning starter Kelvin Sheppard has apparently been unseated by Harry Coleman. Players with five interceptions last year return to the secondary, with the only new starter being Ron Brooks, who had 18 tackles in his redshirt freshman campaign last year. Overall, seven of the nine top tacklers return.

It's a unit that will have to improve. LSU's defense gave up more total yards (325.5) and passing yards (215.4) than the Tigers have allowed in any year since 2001, and more rushing yards (110.2) than any year since 2002. In fairness, the Bengals were 17th in the country and 5th in the SEC against the run -- but that was the only number of those three that didn't land squarely in the bottom half of the conference.

Then again, if LSU's starting QB doesn't throw twice as many interceptions as the defense catches, you've got to like the Tigers' chances.

(Note: There was no depth chart that I could find on the LSU Web site; the above-linked And The Valley Shook post and Phil Steele were invaluable.)


MONDAY: LSU Addresses Its Chief Concern
TUESDAY: Pelican State Planner
EARLIER TODAY: Les Gets His Groove Back
THURSDAY: Predictions
FRIDAY: Feedback and Conclusions