Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: LSU
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 6-0 (3-0 SEC)
The way preseason camp ended for LSU was a coach’s worst nightmare. In short, a bunch of the players went out and broke curfew, a bar brawl ensued, and when the smoke had cleared, senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson was facing a felony second-degree battery charge for allegedly kicking a man in the face. It could have been a huge distraction for the Tigers, but they went out that first week and pinned a 40-27 beating on No. 3-ranked Oregon and haven’t looked back since. It was the first of four wins over Top 25 foes for the Tigers, who’ve won their first six games by double digits for the first time in school history and are No. 1 in the country in both the Associated Press and Harris Interactive Top 25 polls. Jefferson, after being suspended for the first four games, is back after having his charge dropped to a misdemeanor. The Tigers have been a resilient bunch. Junior receiver Russell Shepard was also suspended for the first three games by the NCAA, and senior offensive guard Josh Dworaczyk is out for the season with a knee injury. But LSU has been able to shuffle people around in the offensive line and has worn teams down in the second half. Of course, this is a team built on defense, and John Chavis’ group is deep, fast and talented. The Tigers are ranked fifth nationally in total defense and playing at a championship level on that side of the ball. A year ago, they went into their showdown with Auburn unbeaten. It looks like they’ll do the same this season against Alabama on Nov. 5.
Offensive MVP: QB Jarrett Lee. He’s been Mr. Steady for the Tigers and stabilized the quarterback position. Lee has thrown eight touchdown passes and only one interception, and he’s helped LSU rediscover its deep passing game. The way he embraced his leadership role when Jefferson was suspended says a lot about his character. It also says a lot about Lee with the way he’s handled everything ever since Jefferson has been back.
Defensive MVP: CB Tyrann Mathieu. Picking just one defensive player on LSU’s team for MVP honors is about as difficult as scoring a touchdown on these guys. The Tigers are brimming with talented players on defense and play with great chemistry. Mathieu leads the team with 41 total tackles and is a master at creating turnovers. He has two fumble returns for touchdowns and leads the SEC with four forced fumbles. There’s not a better defensive playmaker in the league.