St. Charles Herald-Guide

MIKE ASKS ...

By Mike Detillier - January 16, 2008

For the second time in the past five years the LSU Fighting Tigers are the BCS College Football National champions. Last Monday the Tigers defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 38-24 and to be honest the 38-24 score was no indication of just how dominant the Tigers were.

Led by a senior group of excellent players including quarterback Matt Flynn, running back Jacob Hester, wide receiver Early Doucet, offensive tackle Carnell Stewart, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, outside linebackers Luke Sanders and Ali Highsmith, defensive end Kirston Pittman, cornerbacks Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon and safety Craig Steltz (who was injured during the contest) the Tigers showed just how much athleticism there was on this purple and gold squad.

In the past four years the seniors have compiled a 43-9 win/loss mark, two SEC Championship game appearances, 1 SEC title, 1 national championship squad, and a 3-1 mark in bowl games.

Not bad, not bad at all. And to be honest another senior group over a four-year span will have a difficult time matching those numbers in a super competitive Southeast Conference.

The good news is that the Tigers do have a very good group of players, who have been in big game action, back for 2008.

If quarterback Ryan Perrilloux can stay out of troubleís way he gives the Tigers a very talented and athletic signal-caller to build around and the young group of receivers from last season Demetrius Byrd, Jared Mitchell, Terrence Tolliver, Brandon Lafell, Ricky Dixon and tight end Richard Dickson will return to the lineup.

So will the speedsters at running back in Keiland Williams, Charles Scott, Trindon Holliday and Richard Murphy and four members of the starting squad of the 2007 Tiger offensive line.

It is on the defensive side of the ball where there are blocks to be put in place.

Glenn Dorsey is a unique football player and he will be hard to replace, but the Tigers seem to have another budding young superstar in place with the play of defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois, who was the Defensive MVP in the 2008 BCS title game.

The Tigers will miss the leadership and playmaking skills of Luke Sanders and Ali Highsmith at both outside linebacker spots.

Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard are very athletic and show potential, but they need some experience and playing time to smooth out the rough spots in their game.

The same can be said in the secondary as Chevis Jackson, Jonathan Zenon and Craig Steltz are headed to the NFL. Destrehanís own Jai Eugene, along with Chris Hawkins and sophomore Chad Jones project to the starterís role in 2008.

Again the talent is there for them to excel, but itís the big game experience they lack and especially the speed and week-to-week athleticism the SEC offers.

For Tiger head coach Les Miles it is not a matter of rebuilding, but reloading and just how fast the new starters can come around will tell the tale in 2008.

Tiger fans, enjoy the view from college footballís version of Mount Everest for the next few months because it has been a great climb to the summit.