Rabalais: It’s a far cry from No. 1, but LSU got a fair shake

Notes on a golf scorecard from historic City Park as we plunge forward into August, giddy in the knowledge we’re finally in a month when real football will again be played …

LSU is ranked No. 13 in the USA Today preseason coaches’ poll that was released Thursday.

First take: It’s far from the No. 1 spot that the Tigers occupied in last year’s preseason coaches’ poll, but it’s still a healthy amount of respect for LSU. The Tigers finished No. 12 in the coaches’ poll and No. 14 in the AP poll at 10-3 last season, and I figured they’d start this year in about the same spot.

Tough take: These Tigers will face four top-10 teams on this year’s schedule: No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 10 Florida, plus No. 20 TCU.

Among Southeastern Conference teams, only Tennessee and Kentucky play more top-10 teams (five). Alabama plays one — Texas A&M.

As Les Miles would say, “Just so you know.”

This LSU team has enough question marks and holes to fill without the weight of a preseason No. 1 ranking or even a spot in the top 10 as a burden. No. 13 is just high enough to be able to move into BCS contention should the Tigers answer all of their questions, beat the odds and come through with an 11-1 or 12-0 season. LSU started at No. 14 in 2003.

While LSU football fans nervously continue their Jeremy Hill vigil, St. Augustine superstar Leonard Fournette, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, has apparently set his five official visits.

He will go to Alabama, Michigan, USC, Florida and Miami. Not LSU.

Before any recruitniks go into shock, this isn’t a big deal from LSU’s perspective. Fournette camped here this summer, has been on LSU’s campus at least seven times to date according to 24/7 Sports and can be expected to be a fixture on Tiger Stadium’s sideline for most if not all LSU home games this fall.

Last week, LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson tweeted, “Looking at the Recruiting Class of 2014 for the LSU Tigers this could be the best of all time.” Doubtful Wilson would tweet that if he was worried about not landing most of Louisiana’s best, including Fournette.

No doubt LSU has to continue recruiting Fournette hard. The other schools on his official list aren’t going to let up — especially Bama, whose recruiting coordinator, Burton Burns, has St. Aug ties like Wilson.

But there’s no hiding the fact Alabama has blue-chip ball carriers stacked up the next two years, just like there’s no hiding that LSU needs to hold onto Fournette in a desperate way.

If LSU fans are worried about who will run the ball, TCU fans are worried about blocking and tackling.

TCU said starting right tackle Tayo Fabuluje has quit the team for personal reasons. In May, TCU suspended All-America defensive end Devonte Fields for the first two games.

The LSU game is still to be played, but TCU is down 2-0 in the battle of attrition.