Thursday, May 10, 2007

Slow news day

I don't have much to discuss today, so I thought I'd go with a basic, "What worries me"-style post. What about the 2007 LSU football team worries me? If my worries have an overarching them, they are that we have inexperienced players at some key positions, and a key out-of-conference showdown against a good Virginia Tech team in week 2.

Here's a breakdown.

First, I'd have to say quarterback. If any LSU fan is being honest with himself, he has to acknowledge that there is the potential for QB to be a problem next year. After all, it is undeniable that no SEC team will be starting a QB in 2007 who took fewer meaningful snaps in 2006 than did Matt Flynn.

I'm not saying, "Matt Flynn is terrible," or, "Matt Flynn will struggle." I am saying that Matt Flynn could struggle. Yes, I remember the Peach Bowl against Miami. I am just not sure he'll repeat that level of performance.

The good news is that Flynn has had a lot of time in practice to hone his skills and to prepare. He could end up being a very good player and very effective at his position.

Second, I worry about the right side of the offensive line. We will have two new starters on that side. Will they make room for the runners? Will they protect the quarterback?We'll just have to see.

The fact is, too, that projected starters Lyle Hitt and Carnell Stewart are both converted from other positions. Hitt was a tight end and Stewart was a defensive lineman early in their college careers. I'm not sure that means anything, but it's an interesting fact.

Third, I worry about the wide receivers. In particular, I worry about the wide receivers other than Early Doucet, who I think is awesome. The only other receiver with any meaningful time is Brandon Lafell, and I'm just not sold on him yet. His most effective route last year was one that Matt Flynn may not be able to throw with regularity: the 40 yard bomb. He wasn't effective in traffic or on shorter routes.

The other returning receivers are Jared Mitchell and Chris Mitchell, who played only at the ends of blow-out games, and Ricky Dixon, who redshirted. None of those guys had any opportunity to show anything meaningful in games last year, but Jared Mitchell did have a crushing block once. It was impressive.

There is also JUCO transfer Demetrius Byrd. Some say he's really good and will be our #2 receiver next year, but he hasn't set foot on the field against SEC competition yet.

After that, we have some highly-touted true freshmen coming in: Terrance Tolliver, Ron Brooks, and John Williams. Brooks and/or Williams may be moved to defensive back. Either way, it is hard to rely on true freshmen at the wide receiver position. Any of these guys could end up great, but it isn't often that a true freshman wide receiver really makes an impact. The last one at LSU was Michael Clayton.

It certainly helps that Doucet is such a good short-yardage and red zone receiver due to his ability to go get a "jump ball". I've never seen a receiver at LSU who was so good at leaving his feet to go up and get a ball.

What does it all mean? Well, I think it's entirely possible, or even likely, that one, two, or all of these worries will ultimately prove unwarranted. However, the worst case scenario is that because of weakness at the QB, WR, and OL positions, we will have an anemic passing game and ultimately a one-dimensional team. It is also possible that this is a problem that will plague us early, but eventually come around late, kind of like our running game last year.

With Virginia Tech sitting there in week 2, that could be very worrisome.

My question is this: If, as many people expect, LSU is beating Mississippi State soundly in the first week, when should we remove the starters?*

Well, I think other than the positions mentioned, we can remove the starters at a normal time. However, I think Flynn, the receivers, and the offensive line need to have as much time as possible to gel in preparation for week 2. What's more, we shouldn't close the playbook with a big lead. It is too important for the next week.

* Yes, I know this sounds like I am looking past Mississippi State. I certainly think it is possible that Mississippi State will play us tough or even beat us. However, objectively, we have to realize that Mississippi State was terrible last year, and that there is little reason to believe they'll be any better this year.

1 comment:

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