The depth chart reads nine starters
are back, however, if you count senior center Rudy Niswanger, who started the
last four games of last season after Ben Wilkerson was lost with a knee injury,
that makes 10.
Ten returning starters back from a
team that averaged 28.7 points ad 395 yards of offense per game last season, the
lone starter lost was quarterback Marcus Randall. Randall was tabbed the first
team quarterback by coach Nick Saban, but actually shared the starting role with
then freshman JaMarcus Russell.
Russell is poised to take over full
time for Randall and display the skills fans expected when the 6-5, 248-pound
signal caller arrived on campus two years ago. Russell will have plenty of
talented receivers to which to throw and with a veteran offensive line blocking
for the deepest and most experienced backfield in the SEC, expect the offense to
be potent come September.
You want to spark a hostile
argument in Baton Rouge these days, walk into a crowd of Tiger fans and utter
the simple question, “who do you think is going to be LSU’s
While who will be the Tigers’
signal caller is almost a hot topic in Tiger town, it may actually be a bit more
heated this season due to the fact LSU will have three outstanding quarterbacks
on campus come August.
When JaMarcus Russell (6-5, 248)
and Matt Flynn (6-2, 230) arrived two summers ago, fans were sold on the fact
the Tigers would have no quarterback issues for at least the next four season.
A year after winning the national
title, LSU had all the pieces of the puzzle in place to make another run at the
title, except quarterback. Marcus Randall was dubbed the starter and performed
very similar to the way he did in his previous four years on campus –
When Randall played poorly, the
staff called on Russell, who had his moments. However, as most people know,
two-quarterback systems rarely work and that was the case in 2004.
In the bowl game, LSU played all
three quarterbacks and Russell nearly led the Tigers to victory (a last-second
prayer by Iowa gave the Hawkeyes the win) and he entered
the spring as the player to beat. While the Mobile, Ala.
native was the shaper of the two quarterbacks, Miles stressed the race was still
even in the wake of spring drills. And do you blame him? Miles, in his first
season at LSU, is trying his best to avoid any controversies, especially with
the quite-confident Ryan Perrilloux on his way to town.
“I don’t think we will name a
starter or designate who will be the starting quarterback for some time,” Miles
said. “The competition is really too close to call at this time.”
You didn’t really think he was
going to give you more than that did you? Mum has been the word for Miles so far
this spring and he is going to take this race down to the wire. However, the
picture should become a bit clearer just how close Russell and Flynn really are
when Perrilloux (6-3, 210) shows up in August.
If there is one thing this team has
it is offensive specialists.
Auburn boasted the SEC’s (if no the nation’s)
best offensive backfield with Carnell Stewart and Ronnie Brown last season. This
year, it is LSU’s turn.
With the return of Joseph Addai,
Alley Broussard, Justin Vincent and Shyrone Carey, the Tigers’ backfield can
attack a defense in virtually way. Broussard and Addai can run over you, Vincent
around you and Carey through your legs make this the deepest, most experienced
and versatile group of runners in the conference.
“I think everybody knew we were
going to be talented at the running back spot and we are,” Miles
Addai (6-0, 210) is possibly the
most diverse offensive specialist in the entire SEC. A bruising running back
with speed and agility, Addai catches the ball out of the backfield better than
any other running back anywhere.
Broussard (6-0, 233) is your
typical bruiser running with the force of a Mack truck. Now a junior, Broussard
has the speed to outrun opponents as displayed in the Capital One Bowl, but the
size and brute force to cut a gaping hole in almost any defensive
Vincent (5-10, 213) had some
flashes of brilliance this spring but still has struggled to regain the form of
his most impressive freshman campaign. Carey (5-6, 203) in his final year in an
LSU uniform, is a dependable third down back that is used primarily in special
Jacob Hester and Kevin Steltz will
share the role as starting fullback.
While Steltz (5-9, 244) is more of
a battering ram, Hester (6-0, 225) is versatile in the fact he is an excellent
pass receiver and runs well between the tackles. Hester, now a sophomore, will
likely get most of the starts due to his diversity while Steltz is perfect for
short yardage situations. However, sophomore Shawn Jordan (5-11, 232) will get
some looks as well.
“I like Steltz and Hester,” Miles
said. “I think both of them are guys that will play and contribute and I am not
all that afraid of putting Jordan in the game
Thank you Nick Saban.
Saban will go down as one of the
league’s best coaches ever and probably the SEC’s top recruiter of all time. And
one area at which Saban excelled on the recruiting trail is wide
Saban left the cupboard stocked
with so much talent that the Tigers receiving corps will rank as one of the
country’s best units.
Led by senior Skyler Green (5-10,
195), LSU goes six even seven deep at wideout without a drop-off in talent.
Green returns after suffering a rash of injuries a year ago and will look to
regain the form of an outstanding sophomore season in the Tigers’ run to the
Dwayne Bowe (6-3, 213) will be the
league’s most physically dominant receiver and is poised to be one of the
premiere offensive stars in all of college football. Craig “Buster” Davis (6-2, 195) had a
strong spring and will factor in as the third receiver and sophomore Early Doucet (6-0, 213) gives the Tigers a Josh Reed-type weapon mixing the abilities
of a running back with a wide receiver.
Speedster Xavier Carter (6-2, 199)
was used as a part-time receiver a year ago being featured more as a kick
returner, but after an eight catch performance in the spring scrimmage last
week, the Miami
native displayed he will be a primary fixture in the LSU offense.
Sophomore Amp Hill (6-3, 198) seems
poised to take an active part in the offense after a two-year hiatus. As a true
freshman Hill tore ligaments in his right knee and has been a non-factor every
since. But Hill says he is healthy for the time in two years and is ready to rip
“I think Xavier and Bowe and Buster
and Early all played well this spring,” Miles said. “We have a wealth of talent
at the wide receiver spot I don’t think there is any question.”
LSU will use its tight ends under
Miles somewhat by committee with senior David Jones (6-4, 260) leading the
Jones missed spring drills after
undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. In the meantime Keith Zinger (6-4,
247), and Mit Cole (6-4, 260) got most of the reps. Former center Doug Planchard
(6-3, 291) moved to tight end and spent most of the spring getting accustomed to
his new spot.
Aside from wide receiver, LSU’s
offensive line may be the deepest areas of the 2005 squad.
The unit returns in tact from a
year ago. The Tigers do lose Ben Wilkerson from the rotation, but he missed the
last four games last season with a knee injury and Rudy Niswanger (6-5, 293)
returns as a starter in that spot.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (6-7,
325) returns for his senior season after saying no to the NFL Draft and projects
to be one of the best o-linemen in the nation this fall.
Other primary players on the
offensive front include returning starters Nate Livings (6-5, 295), Terrell McGill (6-4, 325) and Brian Johnson (6-4, 310). Will Arnold (6-4, 320) is a
returning starter at guard, but suffered an ankle injury in spring drills. He is
expected to be back for fall camp.
Players expected to serve in
backup roles include Peter Dyakowski (6-4, 294), Max Holmes (6-4, 275), Ryan Miller (6-6, 305), Brett Helms (6-2, 275), Garrett Wibel (6-3, 295), Paris Hodges (6-5, 316) and a greatly improved Herman Johnson (6-7,