Getting Defensive

The LSU Tigers were known as one of the top defensive teams in the country in 2011. A year later , most of that stingy unit returns for more. Led by quality depth along the defensive front wall, speed and size at linebacker and one of the top secondaries in all of college football, Chavis has a lot to be excited about.

"I am proud to be part of a program where the expectations are very high," said the fourth year LSU defensive coordinator. "Coach Miles does a tremendous job of leading this program and setting the tone for this program.

"The thing that makes it even more fun is a talented group of athletes.

"Every year I have been here, I have not backed away from saying that we are very, very talented."

Chavis will look to a talented blend of veterans and talented underclassmen to generate from push from the front four this fall.

"If you look at our personnel at all starts up front," said Chavis. "With Sam Montgomery and KeKe (Barkevious) Mingo as pair, I don't know that I would trade them for any other two defensive ends in the country.

"They are guys that are very talented, guys that fit our style of play and guys that have been very, very productive for us.

"I think Bennie (Logan) was a little overshadowed last year. He played outstanding football for us."

"Josh Downs is a guy who has played a lot of football for us and then you add in (Ego) Ferguson and (Anthony) Johnson and it gives you four good tackles.

"I am not ready to say they are great, but there is no question you can go and compete with those guys in the SEC."

The Tigers hit the recruiting trail hard this past recruiting cycle and signed several talented linebackers.

While that unit will have to depend on some younger guys to provide some depth, Chavis likes what he has seen so far in camp.

"I would say three of four of that freshmen group who will see field this season and be productive for us," said Chavis.

"We are going to be able to provide some outstanding depth. We're going to need some time with those younger guys to get them mature."

The Tiger linebacking corp has had their moments and their position coach is quick to defend their level of effort.

"I am not a spin doctor," panned Chavis. "I hear all the time about how productive they (linebackers) have been or have not been.

"If you want to spin it a little bit, take what we did last year at middle linebacker with Kevin Minter and Karnell Hatcher.

"Those guys split time last year, but if you added up their productivity they would be leading our team in tackles.

"Tahj Jones, Kevin Minter, Lamin Barrow and Luke Muncie will be the guys who have played a role somewhat.

"Beyond those guys, we won't have a guy who has taken a snap."

LSU fans are excited about the return of several talented playmakers in the defensive backfield despite seeing safety Brandon Taylor and first round draft pick Morris Claiborne move on after last season.

Chavis is quick to point out that the Tiger cupboard is far from empty when it comes to defensive backs.

"When you move back to the secondary, you're going to hear names like Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu, guys that have played well for us," said Chavis. "Craig Loston is a guy that has played well for us .

"He really took a step forward in the spring. He got set back a little with a bit of an injury, but he's having a great fall.

"Tharold Simon is a guy who has played a lot of football for us.

"There is a lot of talent back there as well as some young guys that will have an opportunity.

"When we sat in this room two years ago getting ready to start the season, who would have known what you were going to get from Tyrann Mathieu as at true freshman or Eric Reid as a true freshman or Tharold Simon as a true freshman?

"The end result was that in the Cotton Bowl we had four takeaways. Those three true freshmen accounted for the four takeaways.

"You talk about those three now and you talk about the leaders in our secondary."

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