2010 OUTLOOK: There's no question LSU fans are expecting more out of their favorites than eight or nine wins and a trip to a second-tier bowl, but the Tigers will have to have several things fall their way for them to compete for a BCS bowl berth.
The defense has potential but needs more seasoning, and the jury is still out on whether junior Jordan Jefferson has the stuff at quarterback to make the Tigers legitimate contenders in the SEC Western Division against the likes of Alabama.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
The ground game expects a boost -- redshirt freshman RB Mike Ford joins veterans Stevan Ridley and Richard Murphy to give LSU more punch. Wide receiver also took a hit with the departure of Brandon LaFell, but Terrence Toliver and Russell Shepard both have big-play capability. The question is at quarterback, where Jordan Jefferson was brought along slowly as a sophomore last year but now has to assume more leadership responsibilities. New assistant Billy Gonzales, brought from Florida to coach wide receivers and coordinate the passing game, has a big job ahead to add life to a passing game that averaged just over 180 yards a game last season, 97th out of 120 FBS teams.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
Help is needed up front, where three of four positions will be filled by new starters. Lazarius Levingston is the only returnee, but he is moving from end to tackle. Senior Drake Nevis didn't start but played in all 13 games and led the defensive linemen in tackles with 48. Top tackler Kelvin Sheppard is back at linebacker, and CB Patrick Peterson is one of the top pass defenders in the country. Newcomers like Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo at defensive ends and Craig Loston at safety have huge upsides, but have yet to show what they can do in games.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicking will be no problem in 2010 with the return of PK Josh Jasper (17-of-20 on field goals) and P Derek Helton (40.0), but the Tigers will be looking for a new punt returner with the departure of Trindon Holliday and Chad Jones. They returned 26 of 27 punts last season. Holliday also led the Tigers in kickoff returns (22 for a 22.4 average), but junior CB Ron Brooks (13-19.4) is back. Junior CB Patrick Peterson also will return kickoffs for the first time as a collegian.
RB Michael Ford -- A redshirt freshman, Ford looks to step into the rotation in the backfield. Ford was a Parade All-American out of Leesville, La., and a member of the highly regarded 2009 signing class.
DE Sam Montgomery -- Montgomery put his name in the mix with some impressive play in the early spring. He is a 6-4, 240-pound redshirt freshman who was considered one of the top defensive end prospects in the country when he came out of Greenwood, S.C.
DE Kendrick Adams -- A junior college transfer from Copiah-Lincoln CC in Mississippi, Adams originally signed with Auburn out of high school. He might now come back to haunt his former choice.
DT Michael Brockers -- At 6-6, 285, Brockers is "becoming a bear to handle inside," according to coach Les Miles. From LSU's fertile recruiting ground in Houston, he was another bright prospect in the 2009 class.
--RB Richard Murphy did not take part in contact work in the spring while recovering from a knee injury.
--LB Kelvin Sheppard and DT Drake Nevis did not play in the spring game because of what were called minor injuries.
--PK Josh Jasper had a 57-yard field goal in the spring game, which is three yards longer than the school record shared by Wade Richey (vs. Kentucky in 1996) and Ron Lewis (vs. North Carolina in 1985).
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