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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Midseason review: LSU

By Chris Low

LSU TIGERS

Record: (6-1, 2-1 SEC)

Don’t count out Les Miles and the Tigers, not after their 23-21 win against then-No. 3 South Carolina last week in Tiger Stadium to stay right in the thick of both the national championship and SEC championship races. LSU checked in at No. 6 Sunday in the first BCS standings and is certainly within striking distance, especially when you consider the Tigers still get a shot at No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge. As important as the win was against South Carolina, LSU still has some serious kinks to work out offensively. In the Tigers’ first two SEC games, they managed a total of 18 points, and that lack of offense cost them in the 14-6 loss to Florida two weeks ago. It’s been a little bit of everything, too. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has struggled to find any kind of a rhythm, and his receivers haven’t helped him much with their habit of dropping passes. The loss of left tackle Chris Faulk to a knee injury after the first game was a huge blow to the offensive line, but a patchwork unit came through against the Gamecocks. Also missing against South Carolina were ailing starting guard Josh Williford and starting tackle Alex Hurst, who had moved from right tackle to left tackle. Hurst is dealing with personal issues, and it’s unclear if he’ll return this season. With only two original starters from the season opener in the lineup, the Tigers’ offensive line still cleared the way for 258 rushing yards against a stout South Carolina defense. It also looks like the Tigers might have found their go-to running back in freshman Jeremy Hill, whose 50-yard touchdown run was the knockout blow against the Gamecocks. There’s no need to worry about John Chavis’ defense. The Tigers are ranked second nationally in total defense and playing at a level that will give LSU a chance in every game.

Offensive MVP: Offensive tackle Josh Dworaczyk. This was a hard one, because nobody has stood out consistently on the offensive side for the Tigers. Dworaczyk, a sixth-year senior, gets the nod based on his willingness to move around and play wherever the Tigers need him. He’s been a guard for most of his career, but has stepped in at left tackle this season. He’s coming off perhaps his best game against Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Kevin Minter. The talk all spring and preseason centered around how much Minter had improved. So far, he’s been the Tigers’ most productive defender, and has been a rock at middle linebacker. He’s tied for fourth in the SEC with 63 total tackles, and is tied for the team lead with 8.5 tackles for loss. In his past two games, against South Carolina and Florida, he’s combined for 29 tackles.