This reporter's article seems to me to have some truths and some "I dont think so", statements. Without a doubt AU is going to be LSU's big game early on in the SEC. I don't agree with his assessment of our linemen;either side. Sports Printer Friendly Version Email This Story To A Friend AU Football Countdown: Reloading LSU expected to be a force Collin Mickle / Staff Writer May 24, 2006 ADVERTISEMENT Editor’s Note: This is the third in a weekly series previewing Auburn’s 2006 football opponents. This week: LSU (Sept. 16). The 2006 Auburn University football season officially begins on Sept. 2, when AU plays Washington State. The Tigers start Southeastern Conference play one week later, against Mississippi State. But for many fans, the season won’t really be under way until Sept. 16. That’s when SEC West rival LSU comes to the Plains for the first really big game of the season. The annual AU-LSU game has high stakes: The winner has represented the West in the SEC Championship Game five of the last six years. Last year, LSU edged Auburn, 20-17, in overtime at Baton Rouge, La. Second-year LSU head coach Les Miles has 13 returning starters, though there’s no guarantee they’ll all be back in the starting lineup. That’s even true of junior quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Russell played well last year, his first as a full-time starter, but suffered an injury in the SEC title game. Junior Matt Flynn replaced Russell and was excellent. Flynn also excelled in spring practice, with Russell still sidelined. And redshirt freshman Ryan Perilloux, a big-time recruit last year, split first-team reps with Flynn in the spring. Odds are, Russell will reclaim his job, though Miles declined to name a starter at the end of spring practice. Whoever wins the job won’t lack for help. The Tigers’ offense is loaded, especially the skill positions. At running back, starter Joseph Addai is gone to the NFL. But speedy junior Alley Broussard - who missed all of 2005 with a knee injury - is back. So is senior Justin Vincent, though he is still recovering from knee surgery. And the Bengal Tigers’ three touted freshman tailbacks - Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy - will get a long look in the preseason. Williams, widely considered a top-10 running back prospect, signed with LSU over offers from Southern California and Florida, among others. The receiving corps returns mostly intact, with talented seniors Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis backed up by juniors Xavier Carter and Early Doucet. The foursome might be the fastest group of receivers in the SEC. And the addition of three touted freshmen - Ricky Dixon, Chris Mitchell and Jared Mitchell - will make LSU even more dangerous. The only place LSU isn’t loaded offensively is up front. Only two starters return on the offensive line: Right tackle Brian Johnson and left guard Will Arnold. Redshirt freshman Ciron Black, who had an outstanding spring, inherits the tough task of replacing star left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Converted defensive tackle Carnell Stewart will compete with sophomore Brett Helms at right guard. Helms is also in the mix at center, where sophomore Ryan Miller is the early favorite to replace Rudy Niswanger. Under the direction of Nick Saban and Will Muschamp, LSU was known for its ferocious defenses. Saban is with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and Muschamp is AU’s new defensive coordinator, but the hard-hitting tradition is still alive on the bayou. That tradition could take a hit this year, though, unless a young defensive line grows up quickly. The only returning starter up front is end Chase Pittman, an adequate but unspectacular run-stopper. He’s likely to play in a rotation with senior Ryan Willis and sophomore Tyson Jackson. Star tackles Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten will be missed. Their likely replacements, junior Glenn Dorsey and sophomore Charles Alexander, just don’t demand double-teams the way Williams and Wroten did. One player who might is redshirt freshman Marlon Favorite, who impressed observers in spring practice but is listed as a backup heading into the fall. The situation is almost as dire at linebacker. Weakside ’backer Ali Highsmith has star potential, but classmates Luke Sanders and Darry Beckwith are inexperienced. There’s also not much on the depth chart behind any of the starters. The defensive backfield still looks like the usual star-studded LSU unit, though, starting with safeties LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels. Landry, who has started 35 consecutive games for LSU, is a virtual lock for All-SEC honors and could be an All-America pick. Daniels is a big hitter despite his 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame. Standout corner Ronnie Prude is gone. But sophomore Chevis Jackson, a starter most of last season, returns. So does junior Jonathan Zenon and senior reserves Samuel Joseph and Daniel Francis. Strong-legged place-kicker/punter Chris Jackson is also back, though he may miss some preseason practice time with a leg injury sustained in the spring.