There have been some rumblings, some behind the scenes whispers....could we do it, could we beat LSU this year? The fire might grow hotter as the game gets closer, it may become the game circled on our calendars much like the Auburn game was last summer. Let's take a closer look.
I asked Billy Gomilla of And the Valley Shook some questions to help with out with the LSU info, the quotes are his.
The Tigers lost a lot of talent. Nine players were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft....they had another seven players sign as undrafted free agents. In addition to the loss of their seniors on the 2012 team, they lost 10 juniors (11 if you count Tyrann Mathieu).
On defense alone, they lose 8 of 11 starters including their big name players Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Kevin Minter and Eric Reid. Of course, they stockpile talent in Baton Rouge, but when your team is gutted it can be tough to recover from an experience and leadership standpoint.
I asked Billy, what unit will be LSU's biggest strength this year?
Definitely the linebacking corps. Thanks to a loaded recruiting class in 2012, LSU has six quick, athletic linebackers with game experience ready to play this season, and they still have one of 2013's marquee recruits yet to arrive in LB Kendall Beckwith.
As far as the weakest, for once, it might be the Tiger defensive line. There's still some talent there (d-tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson could be primed to break out) but in relation to recent seasons, there just isn't as much depth, and its a virtual certainty that some of the 2013 d-line recruits will get on the field. LSU may have to (*gasp*) actually lean on the offense for the first month or so of the season, while the defense comes together.
This could be an advantage for MSU. With the entire 2-deep offensive line coming back from last year's team we should have a unit that is already gelled and ready to go. It seems like a far-fetched dream to suggest we may win the battle vs. their D-line but you never know, it could happen, and may be the key to pulling the upset.
Winning in Death Valley isn't even something I feel like could happen before I retire in 35 years, but Starkville is a different story. Under Mullen we have seen two very competitive games with LSU at Davis Wade. The first was, [cringe] 2009, and then a pretty tight game in 2011 until late in the 4th quarter. At least playing them at home gives us the hope that maybe just maybe it could happen.
|Sept. 21||Sept. 28||Oct. 5||Oct. 12|
|LSU||vs. Auburn||at Georgia||at MSU||vs. Florida|
|MSU||vs. Troy||Bye||vs. LSU||vs. Bowling Green|
In the schedule of all schedules to try and set us up to beat LSU, this is it. We will have already been tested vs. Oklahoma State and Auburn, but get Troy two weeks prior and a bye the week before this game. And our minds ought to be squarely focused on the Tigers as we've got Bowling Green for Homecoming the week after.
Meanwhile, LSU plays Auburn which is almost always hotly contested, then they go to Athens before coming to Starkville in a game they won't be thinking too much about (since they don't pay us a 2nd thought) with Florida on deck.
In that same vein I asked Billy, is there any concern whatsoever about losing to State, or it is just like knowing the sun will come up every morning?
Speaking for myself, its always in the back of my mind. No streak lasts forever -- if Kentucky can finally beat Tennessee than anybody can lose. State's been a prime trap game for LSU each of the last two seasons, only for the Tigers to be ready. I certainly don't think this'll be the year it finally happens, but then I suppose that's the whole point of a trap right? That you don't see it coming...
In my opinion, this is the year for this to go down. I think a lot of other State fans see it too, but when a LSU guy still says he doesn't see it coming - that's how far down the list we are.
They'll have excellent running backs and wide receivers again this year. Zach Mettenberger is a pretty good QB and should be improved. Their linebackers will be among the best in the country and the secondary will be really good yet again. It's going to be tough just like any other year, and we've got to get past the mental block of beating the Tigers. I think we have maybe a 25-30% chance of winning this game as I see it right now - but that's also better than most every other year I can remember.
What do y'all think?