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I Wanna SEC You Up: The LSU Offense

It's Monday and I'm depressed about going back to work after a five day weekend. Thankfully I have the LSU Golden Girls to brighten my mood.

For most teams an 11-2 mark would be a good season, but last year's LSU Tigers seemingly underachieved into a two loss season, dropping a game at Auburn that saw LSU pile up 382 yards of offense and six drives inside Auburn territory on their way to a single field goal, despite a roster laden with current and future first round NFL draft picks. Though a number of high profile names are gone, many have LSU picked to not only win the SEC, but to earn a date with Southern Cal in the BCS Championship Game. This week, we'll take a look at LSU; what's changed, what's the same, and how they are going to fare this season.

Offense

Though several of the big names from last year's LSU offense will be playing on Sunday this season, there is more than enough talent, both returning and stockpiled, to equal or surpass last season's more than impressive production.

Category Rank
Scoring Offense 1st
Passing Offense 3rd
Pass Efficiency 1st
Rushing Offense 2nd
Red Zone Offense 3rd
1st Downs 2nd
Total Offense 1st
Of all the key losses on offense, the one that might hurt LSU the most never saw the field last season. OC Jimbo Fisher moved on to Florida State during the offseason, prompting head coach Les Miles to bring Gary Crowton from Oregon. Crowton's Duck offense finished ninth in the country last year in total offense, averaging 422.85 ypg and leading the Pac-10 in both total and rushing offense. Know for his wide open offenses, Crowton's schemes will likely take some time for SEC defenses to figure out, and he has the personnel at QB and WR to run them in Baton Rouge.
QB Matt Flynn
The last time QB Matt Flynn started a game was the 2005 Peach Bowl, when LSU thoroughly dominated Miami all night long on their way to a 40-3 rout. There were doubts that Flynn would be able to fill the shoes of starter JaMarcus Russell, who was injured in the SEC Championship game, but he earned the Offensive MVP award after throwing 13 of 22 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He saw limited duty last year in mop up situations, but was the clear starter coming into this season even before the increasingly scandalous Ryan Perrilloux was suspended from the team.
WR Early Doucet
REC YDS AVG TD Long
59 772 13.1 8 58
Flynn will have both veteran experience and raw talent to lean on this season, despite the loss of leading receivers (and first round draft picks) Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis. Bowe and Davis combined for 121 catches, 1,826 yards and 16 TDs last season, and filling their shoes will be no small feat. Luckily for the Tigers, their third leading receiver, Early Doucet returns, along with Brandon LaFell, who caught five for 140 yards and 2 TDs last season as a redshirt freshman. Also in the mix are converted RB Trindon Holliday, and several highly touted recruits. Both Terrance Toliver (#2 WR in the country) and DeAngelo Benton (#7 WR in the country) could see playing time as true freshmen, and JUCO transfer Demetrius Byrd will also be in the mix for playing time this fall.
FB Jacob Hester
Receiving
REC YDS AVG TD Long
35 269 7.7 3 38

Rushing
ATT YDS YPC TD
94 440 4.7 6
The intriguing link between the new passing and rushing attacks will be Jacob Hester. The versatile senior was the leading rusher last season at RB, gaining 457 yards on 94 carries and 6 TDs, and is also the second leading returner in receptions with 35 for 269 yds and 3 TDs. He's expected to move to FB this year, though.

Joining him in the backfield are the team's three other top rushers from last season, Keiland Williams (the projected starter at RB), Alley Broussard, and Charles Scott. Williams especially should have a breakout year, after he fell just short of Hester's 457 yards with 452 and 6 TDs with 5, but surpassed him with a 5.7 ypc. Also helping the ground game is an O-Line that returns mostly intact, with starters at C Brett Helms, RT Herman Johnson, and LT Ciron Black all coming back, and the return of potential star Will Arnold at LG after he missed more than half of last season due to injury. O-Line coach Stacey Searles left for Georgia after last season, prompting the hire of Greg Studrawa, who has served at OC at Bowling Green for the past four seasons. His experience running Bowling Green's wide open offense should make him an excellent fit with Gary Crowton.

Even though some of the more important faces have changed on this side of the ball, look for LSU to finish at or near the top of the conference once again in every category. Tomorrow we'll break down a defense that returns 8 starters from a monster unit, and is the biggest reason this team should go undefeated this year.