LSU’s football team will lose a few key seniors and likely will also lose at least a few key underclassmen who decide to declare early for the NFL draft.
Most of those players are on defense.
But the Tigers offense, which showed a much-improved passing game in the last month of the regular season, will take fewer key hits, and the list of recruiting commitments includes several highly regarded skill players.
All of that leads LSU coach Les Miles to think that next season’s offense could be as good as any he has had in his eight seasons.
“I would have to guess that we would continue on the path that we’re headed, and that offensively, we would maybe be as talented as we have been with some of the newcomers that will be here even in January,” Miles said after practice Tuesday night. “It will be a nice kind of pick-me-up on the team.”
Left tackle Josh Dworaczyk, center P.J. Lonergan, wide receiver Russell Shepard and tight end Chase Clement are the only seniors on offense who are headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl and have played significant minutes, and LSU has plenty of young talent ready to move in.
None of the underclassmen projected to be high NFL draft picks play offense. Two starters — halfback Alfred Blue and left tackle Chris Faulk — are expected to return from injury, and quarterback Zach Mettenberger has emerged as a playmaker late in his first season as a starter.
The Tigers’ newcomers are expected to include a handful of talented receivers, at least one other “athlete” on offense, two tight ends and a fullback.
“I think there’s a chance to have different personnel combinations,” Miles said. “I think there’s a chance to expand bits and pieces of our offense that benefit our personnel. I think there will be structural and strategic differences, based on the guys that we have and the productivity that they’re giving us.”
Miles said he thinks Blue and Faulk will be sufficiently recovered from knee surgery to participate in spring practice. He said wide receiver Travin Dural, who was lost for the year because of a preseason knee injury, practiced Tuesday. Miles said he expects Dural will “get into the mix pretty quick.”
LSU safety Eric Reid qualified as a Consensus All-American after having been named to several All-America teams.
The Consensus All-America team consists of the players listed on the most first-team All-America squads, competing against players at their position.
To qualify, a player must be named to the first team of at least two of if the selected All-America teams.
Reid was named first-team by the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America.
The other three organizations used to compile the consensus team are the Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
The AP and the Walter Camp Foundation named Reid to their second teams.
Tulane kicker Cairo Santos and Louisiana Tech punter Ryan Allen also made the Consensus team.
Miles is the most closely followed college football coach on Twitter, according to USA Today.
The newspaper’s study said that as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Miles (@LSUCoachMiles) had 87,513 Twitter followers, nearly 6,000 more than Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly).
“It’s surprising, considering how little I Twitter,” Miles said. “I probably need to Twitter a little more, to be honest with you. As I anticipate the holidays coming up, I probably need to get a good quality holiday Twitter out there — like ‘Merry Christmas’ would be a fundamental one. Or ‘Merry Christmas’ and maybe ‘Happy New Year’s.’
“Then you could say some personal things about Santa Claus and maybe the reindeer. There’s some things you could do that would really, really zing holiday spirit.”
According to the survey, Georgia’s Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) is third with 55,224 followers, and Tennessee’s Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones), hired by the Volunteers from Cincinnati on Dec. 7, is fourth after gaining 52,704 followers in less than two weeks.
“All of those people that are competing with me for that position — I could say that I have not prepared often, and I have not worked at it at all,” Miles said. “It’s a shame if they’re disappointed in any way, and if they have Twittered more than I, in fact, they should be disappointed.”
As of Tuesday night, Miles had “Twittered” a mere 502 times.
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