LSU Tigers: LSU football

In Houston, LSU fans happy with 2014

August, 21, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Houston LSU fans that have been clamoring to see their team in action locally will get their wish on both ends of the 2014 season.

LSU's two highlight games on the schedule released Wednesday include the Aug. 30 season opener against Wisconsin at Houston's Reliant Stadium and a Thanksgiving Night regular-season finale at Texas A&M, the first game of the series that will close the regular season.

The Wisconsin game is the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game. It'll be LSU's first game in Houston since 1983. The two teams will play again at Lambeau Field in Green Bay in 2016.

The A&M game will be the first of what will become LSU's new end-of-the-season rivalry game. This year's Arkansas game will mark the last of 22 consecutive seasons LSU will close its season against the Razorbacks, who close their 2014 against Missouri.

The LSU-Texas A&M and Arkansas-Missouri games will allow both LSU and Arkansas to play a state line rivalry against an opponent closer than LSU and Arkansas were to each other.

LSU's home schedule ends unusually early in 2014. The Tigers play seven home games, all in a stretch between the Wisconsin game and the final home game Nov. 8 against Alabama. LSU plays at Arkansas and A&M to finish the regular season, with an open date in between.

The Alabama game will be the most attractive of what's an unusually light home schedule. The Tigers also play host to Ole Miss, Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Mississippi State and Kentucky. The Tigers also visit Florida and Auburn.

For Cameron, LSU offense a team call

August, 12, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Cam Cameron was ready for the question.

It is, after all, the one he's been hearing for months, ever since he was named LSU's offensive coordinator in February.

How much of the 2013 LSU offense will be Cameron's? Or will, as persistent public perception suggests, the Tigers' new offensive coordinator be another figurehead through which head coach Les Miles runs his ground-and-pound offense.

[+] EnlargeCam Cameron
AP Photo/Rob CarrLSU is hoping Cam Cameron's skill with quarterbacks will expand the Tigers' offense.
"The answer is, yes I am ultimately in charge of making every call," Cameron said Sunday at LSU's media day. But that came with about 200 well thought out words to qualify that answer. The gist: It's his call, but it's not necessarily his offense.

"It's LSU's offense, No. 1," he said.

As offensive coordinator, he'll obviously have great influence and autonomy.

But ...

"Les has tremendous input," Cameron said. "I enjoy his input. We talked about it before I came here. That is part of what attracted me here."

If you are an LSU fan tired of recent offensive struggles -- the Tigers have been 10th or worse in the SEC in total offense in three of the last four seasons -- that might come as disappointing news. Miles, fair or not, takes much of the blame for LSU’s struggles on offense. The perception is, the Tigers run too much and rely on too few plays.

Enter Cameron, the man who lost his last job as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens because he supposedly abandoned Ray Rice and the Ravens run game. Surely, he'll get LSU away from those conservative calls, right?

Maybe not.

"I like how physical they are," said Cameron of LSU's past offenses, adding that the power run game is what the Tigers do best. "For a lot of teams we play, we'll be the first team they see that lines up with a quarterback under center and a running back following a fullback through the hole."

If you want wide open football from LSU, you might not get it even with Cameron. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who stands to gain much from an offensive coordinator known for developing quarterbacks, warned not to expect a complete overhaul.

"We're still going to have the power running game," he said, "then we are going to take our shots over the top."

All that being said, it doesn’t mean the LSU offense will be business as usual. Cameron is giving Mettenberger more options and is demanding his quarterbacks master the offense enough to get the right play called.

Mettenberger said there are more plays he can check into at the line of scrimmage than in the past and the new offensive coordinator stresses matchups. If, for example, running back Alfred Blue is matched up with a slow middle linebacker, Mettenberger might audible to a play that would take advantage of that matchup by dumping to Blue in the flat and making a slower middle linebacker have to tackle in space.

Those options alone might be enough to open things up, but what Cameron said he has to avoid is opening things up for the sake of putting up statistics. He insists he doesn't need to look like the genius behind an offensive juggernaut's success.

"Personally, I think that's why some teams get in trouble," Cameron said. "They have guys trying to make their mark within a team."

Instead, Cameron said he wants to mold his offense to the team's personality. And as a team that will likely again have a dominant defense under John Chavis. Cameron might find himself, like many recent LSU offensive coordinators, deferring to that strength.

"It all depends on how a game flows," he said.

That, he said, is where he's going to need Miles' input. Miles will have the pulse of the entire game where Cameron will be focused strictly on offense. Miles might notice that the opponent seems incapable of moving the ball against defensive coordinator John Chavis' unit. In that case, the Tigers would want to be conservative. Similarly, if a game's headed for a shootout, Miles might ask for things to be opened up.

"You look at the teams that win the national championship, that's what they do," Cameron said. "They play team football. There are offenses out there that throw up ridiculous numbers. Maybe that will be us, maybe it won't be.

"But the bottom line is that's not our main goal. Our No. 1 goal is to play team offense and put ourselves in position to win."

How to win Alabama-LSU rivalry over time 

July, 19, 2013
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The Alabama-LSU rivalry admittedly is a young one. While the schools have played one another a lot in their history -- 77 times, to be exact -- the real antagonism didn't come until 2007, when former LSU coach Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins for the University of Alabama. Ever since, it is prime-time viewing when the Tide and the Tigers meet.

Saban and LSU coach Les Miles have won four of the past six SEC titles and four of the last six BCS national championships. They've pushed each program to greater heights and established themselves as two of the top coaches in the game, all the while competing against one another on and off the field.

So far, Alabama holds the slight edge over LSU in terms of head-to-head wins and national championships, but will that last? Who will own the rivalry in the years to come? That's what we asked of TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney. Each looked into their crystal ball to come up with three things each school must do to win the rivalry moving into 2014 and beyond.

What LSU must do to own the rivalry

1. Win the home front: Alabama is trying to go toe-to-toe with LSU for most of Louisiana's top recruits. If LSU is to hold its own or win the long-term rivalry with Alabama, it's essential for the Tigers to not only win this war, but in a rout. We all know about the 2014 class in Louisiana, featuring a handful of the nation's best players, most of whom have LSU and Alabama as their top two contenders (see Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson and Laurence "Hootie" Jones). This might repeat itself in what's shaping up to be a similar 2016 class in Louisiana. Given Alabama's current status as college football's back-to-back champion, it's hard to imagine LSU being able to match the Tide's recruiting without dominating its own state.

2. A transformed offense: LSU looks like it can be a defensive juggernaut for years to come. Not only does LSU have a great defensive coordinator in John Chavis, Louisiana yields Chavis an ample quantity of athletes capable of thriving in his system. That has not been the case on offense, where the Tigers have played musical coordinators and have struggled to find their stride since they last won a national championship in 2007. That's in contrast to Alabama, which a year ago had a dominant running game and an efficient passing game. LSU can't be a one-dimensional team while Alabama is a complete team.

3. A thriving state: An underrated part of LSU's success, and struggles, is the fate of the state of Louisiana itself. We saw LSU take a hit when Hurricane Katrina displaced much of metro New Orleans, which represents close to a quarter of the state's population. New Orleans has recovered and the state is at a point where, if the right buttons are pushed, it can move past recovery to experiencing real growth. We've seen in neighboring Texas, a huge growth state, that transplants have assimilated into Texas' rabid football culture and football prospect production has been incredibly strong. If Louisiana, annually the nation's leader in per capita NFL player production, experiences significant population growth with LSU remaining its sole BCS football power, matching the Tigers' recruiting base would be enormously difficult for any rival, Alabama included.

What Alabama must do to own the rivalry

1. Find a quarterback to replace McCarron: It doesn't matter how stellar the defense or how spectacular the running game: Without a solid starting quarterback, Alabama won't be going anywhere against LSU or any other team in the SEC when AJ McCarron leaves after this season. If you're not balanced in this league, you're not going to win, and you need a capable quarterback to make that possible. The difficulty of finding that man might be taken for granted, considering the consistent play the Tide has had with McCarron and Greg McElroy before him, but much of this season will be devoted toward that process. Alec Morris has nice potential and so do the trio of freshman quarterbacks Alabama welcomed onto campus this spring. UA commitment David Cornwell is a guy that can come in and compete for the job in 2014 as well. But whoever wins the gig will have his hands full.

2. Continue drawing from the Louisiana pipeline: Saban left LSU nine years ago, but he never left the state behind entirely. The relationships he maintained there have paid dividends since he came to Alabama in 2007. Since then, Saban has signed nine recruits from Louisiana, including 2012's top prospect, safety Landon Collins. Alabama is in the hunt for 2014's No. 1 overall prospect, running back Fournette and No. 1 offensive tackle Robinson, and the Tide will no doubt continue to mine the area for talent in the years to come. With each recruit signed out of Louisiana, Alabama fills its own coffers while simultaneously emptying LSU's -- a win-win scenario in any rivalry.

3. Keep Saban and his "process" in Tuscaloosa: It's an obvious thing to say, but the vast majority of Alabama's success comes from its head coach and the program he has installed in Tuscaloosa. While it's true that Saban has built a machine -- also known as "The Process" -- that seemingly operates on its own, he's nonetheless the man with his hand on the lever making sure it's working at maximum capacity. Without him, who knows how far Alabama would fall? Kirby Smart or some other coaching candidate may be the perfect man for the job when Saban leaves, but following up what Saban has done in establishing a dynasty would border on the impossible. The pressure would be incredible. The best-case scenario for Tide fans is that Saban stays head coach for as long as he wants before handing over the reigns to a successor who he could watch develop from an advisory role within the athletic department, whether that's as the school's athletic director or in some other responsibility.

Early preview: Balance key to UA, LSU

July, 18, 2013
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Editor's note: This week, GeauxTigerNation and TideNation will examine all aspects of the LSU-Alabama rivalry during the Nick Saban-Les Miles era. Today we turn to this season's game and what each team must do to come out victorious.

It's never too early to look forward to a good old-fashioned rivalry game. So with more than 100 days remaining between now and the Alabama-LSU regular-season matchup in Tuscaloosa, Ala., we asked TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney to break down three keys for each school to come out on top.

A lot can happen between now and Nov. 9, but its safe to say the plans laid out by each writer will be as true today as they are four months from now when Nick Saban and Les Miles meet at midfield in Bryant-Denny Stadium to renew a rivalry that's been boiling intensely in recent years.

How LSU wins in 2013

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
Derick E. HingleAlabama's defense has to find a way to put pressure on Zach Mettenberger in its matchup with LSU on Nov. 9.
1. Offensive balance: On a spreadsheet, LSU did not have a team that should have been able to beat Alabama in 2012. The Tigers were too one-dimensional on offense without a consistent passing game and, if the 2011 meetings showed anything, Nick Saban-coached teams will eat one-dimensional offenses for lunch. But for one night in Tiger Stadium, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was brilliant, throwing for a season's-best 298 yards to bring balance to the usual productive running game, led by Jeremy Hill, and the Tigers nearly pulled off an upset, losing 21-17. This year, Mettenberger will have to be as good -- probably better -- and LSU will need its usual running threat, whether it's Hill or somebody elese. Of course, that is the whole reason why LSU has a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron.

2. Pressure points: Alabama has some work to do on its offensive line, and LSU has some holes to fill on its defensive line. This should not be a huge issue for the Tigers' run defense -- defensive coordinator John Chavis is a master of scheming extra men in the box to negate the run -- but if a now well-seasoned A.J. McCarron has time to sit back and go through his progressions in the passing game, even "DBU" won't be able to cover. Don't believe it? Look at the winning drive last season. Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson should be a pass-rushing force this season. But if the Tigers enter the LSU game still waiting for one of the young ends to emerge as a consistent sack threat, they could be in for a world of hurt.

3. Kicking it around: The last time the Tigers beat Alabama, Drew Alleman gave LSU all of its points with three field goals. Under Les Miles, LSU always seems to enjoy a special teams edge. That's especially important against this team because it will take a mighty effort to just be close to the Tide, based on what they have coming back with offensive skill players and defensive talent. That might be a problem for LSU, which is breaking in a new starting punter in Jamie Keehn and is entering August camp still searching for Alleman's replacement at kicker.

How Alabama wins in 2013

1. Pressure Mettenberger: It's odd that the silver lining in Mettenberger's otherwise lackluster 2012 campaign was a defeat, but such was the case for the rising senior quarterback who threw for a season-high 298 yards against Alabama in early November. Give him credit for making all the throws, but a fair share of the blame lies with the Tide defense, which had three sacks and no quarterback hurries in Baton Rouge. Allowing a big, strong-armed quarterback such as Mettenberger to set his feet like that was just asking for trouble. Combined with a season-low two pass breakups, it's a wonder he didn't throw for more than one touchdown. For Alabama to survive LSU in Tuscaloosa this season, the defense can't afford Mettenberger another career-making day where he has the time to sit back and pick the secondary apart.

2. Stay with the running game: There were times last season when the Alabama offense got too far ahead of its skis and lost balance -- twice to be exact. The LSU game was the first such instance when offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called more passes than runs, and the lack of continuity showed in the second half, when McCarron and Co. went three-and-out on four of six drives. Alabama, of course, survived that bit of unbalance, but the next week it did not as the Tide threw the ball more than it ran and lost in heartbreaking fashion to Texas A&M. While the temptation to pass will be even greater with McCarron a year wiser and with more weapons at wide receiver, the fact remains that the Alabama offense is based on running the football and controlling the line of scrimmage. Handing the ball off to T.J. Yeldon and the rest of the stable of running backs might not be sexy, but it gets the job done.

3. Stay special: A bad kicking game doomed Alabama the last time LSU came to Tuscaloosa as the Tide missed four-of-six field goal attempts in its only loss of the 2011 season. And while Cade Foster appears to have gotten over the hiccup of that game, he comes into the 2013 season with even greater expectations now that short-range specialist Jeremy Shelley is gone. Making the most of every opportunity will be important for whoever handles field goals for the Tide this go-around, whether it's Foster or redshirt freshman Adam Griffith, who could take over for Shelley as the short- to intermediate-range kicker. Getting the ball through the uprights won't be the only thing that's important, though. The Tide must do well in coverage and take care of the ball in the return game, as five of the past seven meetings between the schools have been decided by a touchdown or less.

The stars of the Alabama-LSU rivalry 

July, 17, 2013
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There have been dozens of All-Americans and first-round picks to come out Alabama and LSU in recent years, talented guys like Courtney Upshaw, Barkevious Mingo, Trent Richardson and Tyrann Mathieu. All told, there have been more than 30 NFL draft picks from both programs since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

But with so many players to choose from, how do you determine the best athletes to compete in the rivalry, the ones who have shown up and played their best when the two schools met on the football field each year?

TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney did their best to answer that difficult question.

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Ranking best games in Bama-LSU rivalry 

July, 17, 2013
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The Alabama-LSU rivalry began heating up the minute Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins in an attempt to resurrect a sleeping giant in Tuscaloosa, and it hasn't slowed down since. Alabama has flourished into a dynasty with three rings and counting, while LSU continues to battle for national championships year in and year out under the sometimes-eccentric leadership of Les Miles.

Head to head, the Crimson Tide and Tigers have had some of the most thrilling games in recent memory, often propelling one team or another on to the SEC championship and beyond. Each matchup has had its defining play or its defining performance, whether it was T.J. Yeldon's last-second touchdown in 2012 or Eric Reid's acrobatic interception the year before.

Breaking down each game was no easy matter. In fact, when TideNation writer Alex Scarborough and GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney sat down to make up a top 10 list of the best games since 2007, determining No. 1 was so difficult they had to split the difference and stop just short of calling it a tie.

Looking at numbers three through seven wasn't much simpler. But they persevered and ranked the games from best to worst, and here's the order they came up with:


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LSU recruiting: Positions of need 

July, 2, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU is targeting many of the top athletes in the ESPN 300, some because the Tigers' strong brand name makes it an attractive option and others because the fertile Louisiana recruiting base is strong this year, even by the state's lofty standards.

Leonard Fournette
Alex Scarborough/ESPNLSU has its eyes on top recruit Leonard Fournette.
But what needs is LSU trying to meet?

That's a little trickier to figure out at LSU than many other schools because the frequency of underclassmen departures. But we can take a guess based on likely attrition.


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GTN Mailbag: Who's next? 

June, 28, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney stopped by to take your questions:

From Corey (Tampa, Fla.): Zach Mettenberger is the quarterback for now, but who do you think his replacement will be after the 2013 season? And let's assume Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Airline) goes to LSU.

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
AP Photo/Bill HaberLSU has some options to replace quarterback Zach Mettenberger after the 2013 season.
Gary Laney: It seems like a lot of people who follow LSU want to write off Stephen Rivers, who was the No. 2 quarterback last year as a redshirt freshman, in a battle with Class of 2013 recruit Anthony Jennings.


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LSU writer Gary Laney chat wrap

April, 30, 2013
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GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney stopped by this afternoon to discuss all things LSU, from the Tigers' spring game to recruiting efforts to the recent NFL draft.

Click here to read the chat transcript.

Joyner: Don't forget about LSU

February, 26, 2013
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Despite losses to the NFL draft and an incredibly difficult schedule, KC Joyner warns not to forget about the Tigers in 2013.

Click here Insider to read his breakdown on how LSU can make up for its big losses.

DBs from SEC blanket combine

February, 22, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites took a look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins today in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Click here to read the entire predraft series. Today: Defensive backs and special teams.

LSU Tigers


The obvious acronym for Louisiana State University is "LSU." But to many, the Baton Rouge school gets the title "DBU" for its mass production of NFL defensive backs, from cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne to safeties like LaRon Landry. This draft will do nothing to harm that reputation. Three LSU defensive backs -- including the booted-from-the-team Tyrann Mathieu -- were invited to the NFL combine this week, a year after three (Claiborne, Ron Brooks and Brandon Taylor) were taken in the draft.

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SEC's DLs, LBs strong at combine

February, 21, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

LSU Tigers


If there's any doubt where LSU will need to replenish its stockpile after the 2012 season, watch the NFL combine. LSU has four defensive linemen scheduled to attend, including at least two who are likely to go in the first round. Add linebacker Kevin Minter and the Tigers will have five players from their front seven at the combine. LSU might have the "DBU" reputation, but perhaps it should be more noted for its defensive line production.

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OLs from SEC can thrive at combine

February, 20, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Offensive linemen.


LSU Tigers



The biggest question mark among the 13 players LSU has headed to the combine is left tackle Chris Faulk who, despite missing all but the season opener with a torn ACL, opted to forgo his senior season at LSU and try for the NFL. He's one of two offensive linemen the Tigers have attending the NFL combine, along with center P.J. Lonergan.

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SEC sends several RBs to NFL combine

February, 19, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis. Today: Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

LSU Tigers


Perhaps it says something about LSU's offense in 2012 that among a record 13 players invited to the NFL combine from the Tigers, only two are offensive skill players who are generally considered, at this point, marginal talents. Running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford are the only skill players invited to Indianapolis, which is understandable when one considers LSU was 10th in the SEC in total offense. It's also a sign of youth. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, fullback J.C. Copeland, running back Jeremy Hill and all of LSU's primary threats at wide receiver will return in 2013.

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Cameron brings diverse past to LSU

February, 15, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When we last saw Cam Cameron, he was being fired as offensive coordinator of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, taking the fall after an overtime loss to Beltway rival Washington with three games left in the season.

At the time, the buzz was that Baltimore’s offense was vanilla, had gotten away from what gave it early success and perhaps did not feature running back Ray Rice enough.

When we last saw Cameron in college football, he was coaching an Indiana Hoosiers team that put up big offensive numbers with Antwaan Randle El at quarterback, but lost twice as many games as it won because of a porous defense. That was 12 years ago.

The question now as Cameron prepares to begin his new job as LSU’s offensive coordinator is this: What Cam Cameron is LSU getting? The one that won with a dual-threat quarterback at Indiana? The one that mentored the Ravens offense for the first three-quarters of a Super Bowl-winning season?

Or how about the one who knew LSU coach Les Miles when they both were understudies of Bo Schembechler at Michigan? Or the one who helped mold Drew Brees and Philip Rivers with the San Diego Chargers?

Those who covered Cameron in previous jobs say you shouldn’t expect any of it.

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