An EXTREMELY Premature look at your 2010 LSU Tigers Coaching: Offense: Despite the ever popular cry for Gary Crowton's head, he's going to get another shot as the team's OC next year. I don't feel that it's any coincidence that the playcalling and offensive production has suffered in proportion to the experience we have had at QB. With Jefferson as a Junior, he'll be out of excuses if LSU repeats their 2009 offensive production. The hire of Billy Gonzales is going to reach further than the practices fields of Florida's top talent. He's an excellent teacher of the craft of route running, timing, concentration, etc. Toliver and Randle will benefit from his presence immediately. I am hoping that the offensive collaborations between Gonzales and Crowton bring LSU back to the top of the SEC in offensive production. Frank Wilson's biggest contributions will be recruiting, but I wouldn't sell his coaching short by any means. O-Line production has fallen sharply between last year and this year under Greg Studrawa. I am hoping that this is simply a youth issue with the interior, but play by seniors was just as poor so maybe I am not as hopeful that this area will improve as I would be if we have found a replacement. Issues could lie somewhere in the team beneath what fans see from the stands, but bottom line is that this unit underperformed and it cannot happen again this year. Don Yanowsky is a fine recruiter and well respected in coaching circles. I don't know if that translates over to him being a good TE coach, but the position will lack the talent in 2010 that it enjoyed in 2009 and it was disappointing so I don't expect much production for next year. Defense: The defense improved to an acceptable level. Chavis calls a good game and I no longer have the same concerns from last season when the two-headed DC experiment was being held. His impact has been made most immediately in the play of the LBers. I am genuinely excited to see Shepard lead a speedy, talented, but young group next year. Brick Haley got Al Woods to finally play well enough to leave him in the game for extended periods of time. I really liked how he rotated the D-Line heavily with the young guys. No less than 11 guys played with the starting defense and of that group, all but 3 return. Ron Cooper might be the best of the bunch, IMO. The secondary has improved greatly, although much of it by Peterson's All-world play. Chad Jones actually played well for most of the season. (I'm hoping that this year Cooper teaches him how to wrap up a ballcarrier.) Summary: Les Miles will never be Nick Saban. LSU fans should get used to stupid mistakes, risky play calls, excellent recruiting, tight games against top opponents, etc. for as long as he is here that's what we'll get. He's better than most, but not better than the best. There are are 110 college programs out there in the same boat as LSU, but with half the talent and resources. All of this should translate into major bowls being the normal, SEC CG apperances every other year or so, punctuated by a BCS Bowl or BCS CG bid every four to five years. It's not a bad way to live and short of hiring Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jack Del Rio, Butch Davis, etc. it's not going to improve. He's done a good job of recognizing mistakes and correcting them, especially when replacing coaches. Every coach he's replaced has been upgraded, IMO and isn't that the point of getting rid of/losing a coach? Moffitt proves his worth time and time again, every year. I don't know what role Joe Robinson plays in the kicking game, but if Derek Helton ever punts another football for LSU again, it will be too soon. The kicking game was coached very well this year except for the punting and punt coverage. Offense: QB: Perrilloux's antics set the program back at least two years and thankfully we have not suffered more losses than what we have. Jefferson has been steady and the guy we saw versus Washington was nowhere to be found against Penn State. he started the game shaky as he seemed to struggle with getting his feet set in the poor turf, but he eventually settled down and came out firing in the second half. IMO, he outperformed Senior Darryl Clark who peaked a year ago. I don't think that JJ will ever be mistaken for Rohan Davey in terms of production, but he's more than capable. Next year we'll be looking to see if he has put in the time this offseason and draws from the mistakes of 2009 to improve upon his game awareness and decision-making. RB: The running game will welcome back Richard Murphy, or as I like to call him RJ Jackson, Jr. I am really hoping that things really click for him next season because I don't know of any guy who has worked harder through more disappointment. Stevan Ridley impressed me greatly with his hard running. I don't think that he possess the breakout speed of the great running backs, but he runs without fear and I think possesses enough athletic ability to be an viable threat out of the backfield. I am really anxious to see what Michael Ford can do, too. Tyler Edwards has been used at FB some this year, but Dominique Allen has to be the better option FB with the vacancy created at TE with the loss of Dickson if the goal is to get the most talent on the field at once. TE: Outside of Deangelo Peterson, I don't see a real receiving threat off the line for LSU next year. Mitch Joseph and Tyler Edwards have turned into a pretty good blockers. Perhaps Travis Dickson can inject some life into the offense and open the middle of the field up a bit, but I am not counting on it. WR: Toliver definitely took a step in the right direction this year, but his inconsistencies were maddening. He reminded me of a junior year Brandon LaFell and I hope that he returns this spring with the same focus that LaFell brought to his senior spring. Randle showed flashes, but never got enough opportunities to cash in. Next year he'll have plenty of both. Chris Tolliver will be a sophomore and hopefully provide the offense with an option to stretch the field. I think this area will be ripe for opportunity from one of the freshmen coming in, too. After these three the talent kinda drops, IMO. OL: The biggest offseason move this year (IMO) is how the coaches fill th ehole left by Ciron Black. For the last eight years, two guys have filled that spot. Will Chris Faulk be ready to step in, or will Joe Barksdale be moved over? I have seen many people call for Patrick Lonergan to step in for T-Bob Hebert at the pivot this year. Why did Hebert start this year over Lonergan? Were both not given the same opportunity in the summer? regardless of who starts, we have to see improvement. Alex Hurst saw playing time versus Penn State and did well. I feel much better about that spot for next year after seeing him play. I don't' think that losing Hitt isn't going to hurt one bit. What I want to see made a focus by these guys is playing together. Playing O-Line is much more than just blocking the guy in front of you. With the changes and different looks that defenses give, the offensive linemen must play with the same anticipation and trust that QBs and receivers share. I'm thinking we shake out like this to start 2010: LT: Joe Barksdale (You don't move a 5 star prospect from D-Line to O-Line and not give him a shot at the #1 O-Line spot.) LG: Will Blackwell (What happened to Dworaczyk you West Monroe homer?) C: T-Bob Hebert (or PJ Lonergan. Who the hell knows?) RG: Alex Hurst RT: Josh Dworaczyk (Ah, that's where you put him.) who can play a little tackle, too. I could be completely wrong here and by no means do I hold firm to any of these positions. I could just as easily see Barksdale at RT, Faulk at LT and Dworaczyk at LG again. Summary: O-Line is the key. I'd like to say it couldn't be worse, but that would be a lie. Nothing is more important going into next season than the O-Line blowing open holes for the running game and giving Jefferson time to get the ball downfield. Nothing. All things being equal, I like this year's offense with last year's O-Line. It's not setting any records, but it's good enough for 30 ppg. That's where we need to return next year. Defense: DL: Like their offensive counterparts, lack of execution plagued the D-Line all year long although not to the same extent. This is probably because of better depth and talent on defense than offense. Still, it was an improvement over the previous season and we replaced a first round draft pick. Chancey Aghayere, Chase Clement, Lazarius Levingston, Sam Montgomery, Josh Downs, Drake Nevis, Lavar Edwards and Chris Davenport are the returning players who saw significant playing time this year. Akiem Hicks will contribute next year I'm sure if he's still around. I like the pass rushing talent and I think that Josh Downs is going to be special real soon. I think this will end up being the weak spot of a string defense next season, but only because the back seven are going to be very good. LB: Many here have been disappointed in the LBers since the days of Trev, Bradie and Jeremy. With Chavis' arrival, the glory days are here again. Perry Riley was supposed to be the star of the group this season and it turns out that Kelvin Shepard is a freaking beast. He can play any of the positions and play them all well. If I'm the coach, I put him in the middle next year and let him run from side to side. Kevin Minter and Ryan Baker are two of the hardest hitting LBers I've seen at LSU since Michael Brooks. I'm putting my money down now that they knock more fillings lose next season than any other duo in the SEC. Whether or not they are capable of playing in the scheme is another story, but they are going to cause some major pain next year. Kyle Prater and Ace Fotil should play a role and it wouldn't surprise me if Chavis moved Craig Loston to play a similar role played by Coleman this year. DB: Chad Jones is going to have to turn a corner this season and I mean really turn the corner. He shows very good instincts at times, but blows it with head shots and arm tackles. There's no doubting his abilities, but he has to put the complete [package together next year if the secondary is going to improve and that means playing centerfield. I am really hoping that Craig Loston moves up at SS and Brandon Taylor moves to CB opposite Peterson. Morris Claiborne has done well in spells at CB and Ron Brooks has shown that he can cover, but Brandon Taylor IMO just does not get enough praise for the job he's done playing safety and covering receivers and running backs like a corner this year. Special Teams: K: Jasper is turning into a really good kicker. I did't expect us to replace Colt David this easily so soon, but we've been very fortunate. P: The punter should never stand out to someone. I don't know what the hell happened here, but wasn't Helton supposed to be good? My feelings would not be hurt if we freed up his scholarship and let Jasper handle the punting duties as well. He doesn't have the punting leg that Helton has, but he's far more consistent. KR/PR: Will we miss Trindon? Chad Jones has actually been a good option for returning punts, but do we really want our starting FS taking shots? I am really open to suggestions here about what we're going to do. Immediately coming to mind is Chris Toliver, Ron Brooks and Drayton Calhoun. Perhaps we can add Lache Seastrunk and/or Jakhari Gore to the list of potentials?