|Mickey Plyler -- Radio Host - Thursday, December 27, 2012 1:58 PM||
LSU enters Monday's Chic-fil-a Bowl with a 10-2 record and ranked seventh in the coaches poll. In my opinion this is the best team Clemson will face this season. LSU is a big, physical football team that is a few points from competing for another national title.
Head Coach Les Miles is a riverboat gambler but he has recruited one of the most talented teams in America and has now won at least ten games in six of his eight seasons in Baton Rouge. The Tigers have won 35 of their last 36 non-conference games under Miles.
LSU has one of the top defenses in the country. LSU is 11th in the country in scoring defense (16.92 ppg), eighth in total defense (296 ypg), nine in rush defense (101 ypg) and 19th in pass defense (194 ypg).
The Tigers are led on defense by a dominating defensive line. Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo are perhaps the nation's best defensive end duo. Montgomery is a first-team All-SEC and third team All-American.
The linebackers are led by superstar Kevin Minter who was a first-team All-SEC and second team All-American. The Georgia native was voted the MVP of this team by his teammates.
The secondary is once again extremely talented. They are led by safety Eric Reid who was a first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American selection.
The offense was 54th in the nation in scoring offense (30 ppg), 78th in total offense (387 ypg), 45th in rushing offense (179 ypg) and 90th in passing offense (207 ypg).
When you think of LSU on offense you think of four big, bruising running backs. Jeremy Hill (6-2, 235, Fr), Spencer Ware (5-11, 225, Jr), Kenny Hillard (6-0, 231, So) and Michael Ford (5-10, 216, So) make up the most talented group of running backs in America.
Hill has 130 carries for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman. Ware has 91 carries for 358 yards and a touchdown. Hillard has 80 carries for 456 yards and six scores and Ford has 69 carries for 393 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line is big and physical. It is considered by some to be among the best offensive lines in the country. Left tackle Josh Dworaczyk (6-6, 305, Sr), left guard La'el Collins (6-5, 320, So), center P.J. Lonergan (6-4, 305, Sr), right guard Trai Turner (6-2, 332, Fr) and right tackle Vadal Alexander (6-6, 315, Fr) make up a talented front five.
Zach Mettenberger has played well this season at quarterback. He is 193 of 329 for 2,489 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. At times Mettenberger has looked like he was ready to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league but he was also inconsistent.
The receiving corps is led by Odell Beckham, Jr who has 40 receptions for 673 yards and two touchdowns and Jarvis Landry who has 52 catches for 536 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bengal Tigers are known for being excellent on special teams but their All-SEC punter Brad Wing is suspended for Monday's game. Jamie Keehn will take his place and is the biggest question mark for LSU entering the game.
Placekicker Drew Alleman is one of the best in the SEC. He was 20 of 28 on his field goals this season.
Beckham, Jr. is a terrific punt returner with 31 returns for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
All of this adds up to a tall task for Clemson Monday night. LSU is favored for a reason. Defensive coordinator John Chavis has stars at all three levels and has another dominating defense that often sets the tone for this team. Offensively LSU could try to pound the ball at Clemson and play keep away from Clemson's fast break offense. Clemson will have to play extremely well in all three areas Monday night to beat one of the top teams in America.
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