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Story Archives: LSU schedule still challenging
|LSU schedule still challenging|
Though it's not nearly as difficult as the 2011 season, the LSU Tigers schedule in 2012 will be challenging to say the least.
But what else would you expect while playing in the best division of the most dominant conference in college football?
The Tigers should breeze past foes such as Towson, North Texas, Idaho and even SEC teams like Mississippi State and Ole Miss. As far as "gimmie" games in 2012, that's about all the Tigers will get, and I'm not so sure Mississippi State should be qualified as such.
However, beating teams like a Keith Price-led Washington, Auburn, AJ McCarron-led Alabama and Tyler Wilson-led Arkansas will be a steep mountain to overcome.
But which team will prove to be the most challenging?
5. Texas A&M
Texas A&M might not be one of the best teams the Tigers will play next season, but the game will be one of the toughest.
After playing Florida and South Carolina, the Tigers will have to go on the road to face Texas A&M and their 12th Man most likely banged up a bit.
The Gators and the Gamecocks will both be physical teams next season, and the Tigers might stumble into ol' College Station with some bumps and bruises. As for the team, well, they lost a lot last season, but they should still be decent.
Linebacker Sean Porter and defensive end Damontre Moore could give the Tigers fits up front, while the always explosive wide receiver Ryan Swope should receive most of the Tigers attention on defense. Last season, Swope had 1,207 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
This game could easily turn into a one-sided beatdown for the Tigers, but given the situation of playing on the road after two brutal SEC games, the game could turn into a barn-burner.
The 2012 Florida Gators remind me a lot of last year's LSU team.
They're not as talented as the Tigers were last year, but they are strong at every position besides quarterback. Even more so, they're not sure if Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett will be the starter.
But then again, this defense might be good enough to overcome its quarterback follies. Sound familiar? Heck, LSU's did it for the past four seasons, so why can't Florida?
Led by Jelani Jenkins, Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam and Ronald Powell, this unit will be scary good. Keep in mind that though we're all high on Zach Mettenberger (myself included), we honestly don't know how well he'll do this season.
If the Tigers continue to have quarterback woes and remain stale offensively, this Gator defense could keep this contest close.
3. South Carolina
After missing most of last season due to his knee injury, Marcus Lattimore will be well represented as one of the best running backs in the nation. Before sustaining his injury in the seventh game of the season, Lattimore was averaging five yards per carry and had 10 touchdowns.
Because of Lattimore's return, a strong defensive line and a more experienced quarterback in Connor Shaw heading the offense, the Gamecocks will be the best team in the SEC East.
With them having Shaw and Lattimore returning, their offense should be well-balanced. This will favor Lattimore, as defenses won't be able to load up the box against him. With that said, LSU holds claim to the best defensive line in the country, but what happens if Lattimore reaches the second level?
Though the Tigers have some solid linebacker recruits filtering in, they will have to replace Ryan Baker, and a running back of Lattimore's caliber will be a tough assignment for any player.
Bobby Petrino-led or not, the Arkansas Razorbacks are spoiled with talent.
The best quarterback in the SEC last season was Tyler Wilson, and with a full year of experience under his belt, he should be even better in 2012. Last year, Wilson led the SEC in passing yards with 3,638 and only had six interceptions all year.
The Hogs lost most of their amazing receiving corps, but expect Cobi Hamilton to become Wilson's primary target. Oh, and just in case you forgot, Knile Davis will be making his anticipated return at running back.
Davis was one of the best backs in the SEC in 2010, as he had an astounding 6.5 yards per carry, 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns.
As for the defense, they'll be led by Tenarius Wright at defensive end and Alonzo Highsmith at linebacker, while Jake Bequette and Jerry Franklin begin their NFL careers next season.
The Hogs might not have their same brilliant offensive coach, but they'll still be a force to be reckoned with.
It's amazing what one performance in a championship game can do to change the perception of a player.
This is exactly what's happened to AJ McCarron following his 2012 BCS National Championship performance against LSU that saw him complete 23-of-34 and throw for 234 yards.
What was once thought to be the weakness of the team will now be the strength of this Alabama team.
Alabama lost Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick to the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, but they'll still be profoundly talented. After all, this is Nick Saban's club that we're talking about. Love or hate him, you have to give the man his due. Saban, like Les Miles, recruits extremely well and for both teams it's never rebuild, it's reload.
Alabama will have one of the best offensive lines in the nation (if not the best), a star in the making quarterback and the schemes needed to be successful.
The showdown between the Tide and Tigers on Nov. 3 should be circled on everyone's calendar, and like last season, it should be another nail-bitter.
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