LSU is used to being in the national championship picture. One thing they’re not used to is playing a lot of freshman. So far in 2012 head coach Les Miles and the LSU Tigers have used 15 of their 21 true freshmen signees. Typically, Miles plays about eight to ten.
The reason for the increase in freshman playing time isn’t so much necessity but because more and more players are leaving college after their junior year and more and more are eschewing red shirting. This means coaches have to get players ready and on the field as soon as possible.
Miles is counting on his freshman and believes they give his team a “youthful strength.” Still, there’s a lot of pressure on these young players as the team could play for a national championship. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves though. LSU still has a long ways to go in order to emerge from the toughest college football conference in the country. Below we look at five key games on LSU’s schedule. These contests will go a long way to decide if the Tigers are selected for a run-of-the-mill bowl game, the Sugar Bowl, or the BCS National Championship Game.
In 2011, the Florida Gators got off to a 4-0 start but lost their next four. It’s déjà vu all over again in 2012 as they’ve won their first four games of the season. Head coach Will Muschamp says this year’s Gator team is different. He’s right. The 2012 Gators have more depth and experience. Better yet, QB Jeff Driskel is improving and showing some real signs. Bottom line, battling the Gators in Gainesville will be LSU’s first major hurdle of 2012.
Vs. South Carolina
Last season the South Carolina Gamecocks had the third best defense in the nation. The problem was the top two defenses belonged to Alabama and LSU. This year, South Carolina has a new defensive coordinator, Lorenzo Ward. He’s already made his mark by employing the “rabbit defense” or nothing but defensive ends on the front line. S.C.’s “D” is also tough on third down. LSU will have trouble moving the chains.
>>Oct. 13 – LSU vs. South Carolina in Baton Rouge, La. @ Tiger Stadium
@ Texas A&M
This is Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC. They were welcomed into the conference with a 20-17 defeat at the hands of the Florida Gators. Their tussle with LSU will be their fourth SEC affair (and their toughest). A&M has an up-temp offense and an improving defense. They’re the program of the future but if they can manage a victory against LSU (and that’s a big IF) their future is now.
>>Oct. 20 – LSU @ Texas A&M in College Station, Texas @ Kyle Field
It’s the annual “Game of the Century.” Here’s a shocker: Alabama is deep (yes, that was sarcasm). Offensively, they’re led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback AJ McCarron. On the defensive side of the ball, they’re piloted by linebacker C.J. Mosley. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best and on the first Saturday in November LSU will have the opportunity to do just that.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are a bad in 2012 but they are the last scheduled team on LSU’s docket and the game is planned for Fayetteville. This will be Arkansas’ bowl game. Can we say trap? Arkansas’ offense can score points thanks to quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis but their offensive line is flaky. While we’re at it, their defense is terrible. Arkansas has already lost to one team from Bayou State this season, University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks.