Sunday, April 22, 2007

College Football News Preview - Part I

This article will be fodder for my posts for some time to come. It is the College Football News preview of the 2007 LSU Fightin' Tigers. This post is going to be about the segment called "Ten Best Tiger Players".

CFN says that our ten best players, in order, are:
  1. Glenn Dorsey, DT
  2. [Tyson] Jackson, DE
  3. Chevis Jackson, CB
  4. Ali Highsmith, LB
  5. Ciron Black, OT
  6. Early Doucet, WR
  7. Keiland Williams, RB
  8. Matt Flynn, QB
  9. Will Arnold, OG
  10. Brandon Lafell, WR
I won't be overly critical about this. CFN is a national organization that will be doing previews of probably every high-profile team in the country. I can't expect them to be as informed as a dedicated fan like myself. I think they area wrong about certain things, so let's get started.

I think they are far too kind to Chevis Jackson. They rank him as the 3rd best player on the team. Elsewhere in their preview, when discussing the secondary, they state, "The star of the show is Chevis Jackson, a great hitter who came up with 46 tackles last year to go along with 14 broken up passes and two interceptions. Unlike Zenon, Jackson has NFL written all over him, but first, he might earn a few All-America honors with the speed, size, and technique to be a lock-down defender on anyone's number one.

I just don't see it. I like Chevis Jackson and think he is a legitimate good player. I just don't see this All-American ability that CFN sees. I haven't noticed any quarterbacks avoiding Jackson's side of the field. I haven't seen him make spectacular plays on the ball. I've just seen a pretty good cornerback. Anyway, I think he's rated way too high.

Next, I think Early Doucet is highly underrated. I think he's second to Glenn Dorsey on this list. He was second on the team in receptions and touchdown receptions last year. He has an amazing vertical jump, and when JR gave him jump balls last year, Doucet was unstoppable. He's the kind of receiver that a QB can go to when he ABSOLUTELY NEEDS A COMPLETION. See JR throwing him the ball on a crucial 4th down against Tennessee on a play designed to go to him all along (not the touchdown pass, but the other 4th down pass on that drive). Plus, he's good in the red zone, where a lot of receivers' games falter.

I think Early is a sure-fire 1st round pick in next year's NFL draft, and if Flynn becomes the QB we think he can become, Doucet is a potential All-American candidate.

My next observation is that it excludes Darry Beckwith, who is probably the 3rd best returning Tiger defender. I think Beckwith was clearly our best linebacker last year, and I would slot him ahead of Highsmith, who I thought had a rather quiet year last year. Both are very athletic and both have All-SEC potential though.

I question the Matt Flynn rating. It just seems a little strange to me to rate someone who has never been a regular starter as one of the 10 best players on the team, especially when he took only about 50-70 snaps last year. But, I know that an offense pretty much goes where its QB has the ability to take it. However, I think there are several players who have proven more, andn proven to be very good. See Jacob Hester, Brett Helms, Herman Johnson, Richard Dickson, Rickey Jean-Francois, Jonathan Zenon, Craig Steltz, Colt David, and Charles Alexander.

Special teams are routinely under-appreciated on these lists. Hardly anyone ever claims that a punter is one of the best players on the team, though a punter can easily make the difference between a win and a loss. As an illustration, I sincerely believe that punting made the difference in the game against Auburn last year. (Other things did too, but that's neither here nor there). Kody Bliss averaged an eye-popping 48 yards per punt in that game while Chris Jackson averaged a respectable 42. However, we also got more than one illegal formation penalty on the punts, and when the teams traded punts, we routinely lost several yards of field position. In a tight game, Kody Bliss was probably Auburn's best player that day.

I think Trindon's going to be a great special teams player who can change a game with a return. Just witness the game against Arkansas last year, which we might not have won without Trindon's kickoff return for a touchdown.

Finally, I would like to know what exactly Brandon Lafell has proven. The man made 5 catches last year. Granted, two of them went for over 50 yards, but still. The guy was our infrequently-used fourth receiver, and his anticipated position (second WR) is one of the big question marks on the offense.

Here's my list of our ten best players:
  1. Glenn Dorsey, DT: OK, they got this one right.
  2. Early Doucet, WR
  3. Tyson Jackson, DE
  4. Darry Beckwith, LB
  5. Keiland Williams, RB
  6. Ciron Black, LT
  7. Ali Highsmith, LB
  8. Will Arnold, OG (if healthy)
  9. Ricky Jean-Francois, DE/DT (if his academics allow him to remain on the team)
  10. Trindon Holliday: doesn't get the ball a lot, but is a threat to take it to the house every time.


uberschuck said...

Maybe it was an accident that Jacob Hester didn't make your top 10, since you write about him in your analysis. In my opinion, Hester is in our top 5. As I've said before, his versitility is a huge factor. Because he is effective at blocking, running, and catching from the fullback position, he demands that opposing defenses adjust to him. What defensive coordinator wants to be making adjustments to a freaking fullback? Well, they must, and that means better opportunities for our other threats.

Richard Pittman said...

I really don't like Hester as a fullback. He just doesn't block well enough for it.

I like him as a tailback. He's an underrated runner and good pass catcher. I like him, and definitely considered him for my personal top 10. He probably comes in just below the cut.