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Rushing334.0 (4th)106.0 (18th)
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Tigers report: Notes, quotes

Notes, quotes · Inside slant · Strategy and personnel

RB Justin Vincent burst onto the scene late last scene as a true freshman, and that propelled him to big-time preseason honors -- such as being selected first-team All-American by Athlon. Was that premature? We'll see. (Vincent is rated the No. 5 running back by Lindy's.) Both of those magazines agree that the secondary, led by preseason All-American Corey Webster, is the best in the country. Athlon also rated the LSU defensive line the best in the nation, even though All-American DT Chad Lavalais and DE Marquise Hill are gone.

Sept. 18 at Auburn -- LSU dominated a talented Auburn team last year because it was tougher, more mature and more unified than Auburn. This year's game in Auburn, scheduled a month earlier than last year's game, will be a good test of LSU's mentality.

The Tigers lost some key players and leaders from last year's team, but still have talented pieces in place to make a run for the biggest college football prizes. No-nonsense coach Nick Saban will preach about staying hungry and staying on task, but sometimes it's easier said than done for a team that won it all a year earlier.

The spotlight fell on the quarterback and receiver position in the spring, but the biggest shoes to fill come on a defense that lost four productive leaders in DT Chad Lavalais, DE Marquise Hill, LB Eric Alexander and SS Jack Hunt, as well as some key reserves. Two of the players who must step up and become immediate full-time players are junior DE Melvin Oliver and juco tackle signing Claude Wroten.

Oliver, however, has some off-field issues to address. He is facing an Aug. 3 appearance in family court regarding a restraining order against him by Bel Tyretta Leejay. They have an 8-month-old son.

"I've been there and I think it's something that's going to help me. We're going to be everybody's national championship game. But it's also going to be fun. When you expect it, and you prepare for it, and you know you're going to get their best, it's a great experience when you win." -- Junior offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who played on three state championship teams in high school at West Monroe, La.

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