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I Wanna SEC You Up: The LSU Defense

Not depressed about having to go to work anymore, just seriously impressed at the level of hottness in Baton Rouge. Do yourself a favor and click to enlarge.
After breaking down what should be a potent offense yesterday, today we'll look at the real bread and butter of the Bayou Bengals; Defense. Eight starters return on a D that was the football equivalent of a swirling morass of evil last season, including All-American riot barrier Glenn Dorsey and 2nd Team All-SEC LB Ali Highsmith. That's just two out of eight of the team's top ten tacklers returning, and a huge reason why this team finished 3rd in the nation last year in total defense, and 1st in the conference in every major defensive category save Rushing (where they finished 2nd) and Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (again, where they finished 2nd).
Category Rank
Scoring Defense 1st
Pass Defense 1st
Rush Defense 2nd
Opp 1st Downs 1st
Opp 3rd Down Convert 2nd
Sacks By 1st
Red Zone Defense 1st
Total Defense 1st

Clearly this is not a defense to be trifled with, even with the loss of both the safeties that helped make LSU's pass defense virtually impenetrable.

DT Glenn Dorsey
64 3 5.5 0 0
The Line

With Glenn Dorsey returning for his senior season (he was a projected first round pick), this line could easily be the best in the league. The undeniable star, Dorsey recorded 65 stops last season with 3 sacks and 5.5 TFL. Joining him in the middle will be Marlon Favorite, a former #1 DT prospect and backup to Dorsey, while the DE spots are held down by Tyson Jackson and Ricky Jean-Francois. Jackson led the team in sacks last season with 8.5, wihle Jean-Francois recorded three himself as a redshirt freshman. The line has some quality depth going as well, with So. Al Woods, a Parade All-American, and Charles Alexander, who started six last year and recorded 28 tackles with 2.5 sacks, looking to get plenty of playing time as well.

The Linebackers

MLB Darry Beckwith
65 2.5 1.5 0 1
As if the line wasn't hard enough to get through, the linebacking corp returns intact with plenty of quality depth in tow. MLB Darry Beckwith and 2nd Team All-SEC SLB Ali Highsmith are the leading and third best returning tacklers, respectively, while WLB Luke Sanders had 35 stops and two sacks last year in ten starts. If those three weren't scary enough, Derrick Odom, Jacob Cutrera, Perry Riley, and Ace Foyil are all in the mix for playing time as well. Of those four, both Foyil (at Tulane) and Cutrera have a start under their belt, while Riley and Odom were sought after recruits that could make an impact right away.

The Defensive Backs

The one area where a personnel loss could be a problem for LSU is at FS. All-American LaRon Landry was a first round draft choice, and Curtis Taylor has his work cut out for him if he intends to fill those shoes. Luckily for him there's plenty of experience to lean on, with Craig Steltz holding down the SS spot after starting 3 last year, including LSU's Sugar Bowl Irishing of Notre Dame. Seltz recorded 42 stops last year with 1 sack and 1 TFL, while breaking up five passes and becoming the first player in LSU history to intercept a pass in four straight games. Both starting corners return as well, with Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon providing veteran leadership in the backfield. Zenon, in fact, tied Steltz for the most picks (4) last season, and returned two of his for scores, while Jackson led the team in PBUs with 14 and had two picks of his own.

The defense on this team is both talented and deep, a scary combination for any team facing them this season. Tomorrow we'll break down the schedule and see who LSU will have to roll over on their way to a predicted berth in the BCS Title Game.