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Monday, August 12, 2013
Countdown to SEC kickoff: 17 days

By Chris Low

The days are dwindling until we kick off this season in the SEC. At LSU, there will be several new faces playing key roles on defense, and that's just fine with veteran coordinator John Chavis.

Today's number to dissect: 3.
Sacks aren’t the end-all when it comes to evaluating how well a team rushes the passer, but they’re certainly a gauge. LSU was loaded with guys who could get to the passer last season. But the Tigers return just three sacks from their defensive line. Junior tackle Anthony Johnson is the only returning defensive lineman who recorded a sack last season, and he had three. There’s not a single end on the LSU roster who had a sack last season. Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Lavar Edwards combined for 17 (Mingo also had 12 quarterback hurries), and all three players are now in NFL camps. So who’s going to be the Tigers’ finisher (or finishers) off the edge this season? Junior end Jermauria Rasco, along with sophomore end Danielle Hunter, would be a good place to start. Chavis has never been shy about playing freshmen, either, so Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower are a pair of newcomers to watch at end. The Tigers will also generate pressure from other places in Chavis’ scheme. Safety Micah Eugene had 3.5 sacks last season, and you can bet LSU will get some push up the middle from the Ego Ferguson-Johnson tandem. Chavis isn’t the least bit worried about the talent or speed on this defense. Experience will be an issue, but he’s confident the Tigers will keep the standard right where it’s been defensively ever since he arrived on the Bayou in 2009. LSU has racked up 34 or more sacks each of the past three seasons and finished in the top-12 nationally in total defense all three of those seasons. The Tigers have ranked in the top-12 nationally in scoring defense in all four of Chavis’ seasons in Baton Rouge.