LSU Football: Out of the Shadow, into the Spotlight, Players to Watch in 2011
The LSU football team has come under fire recently for various troubles, leading to suspensions for some players—including starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard.
In the absence of these key players and in the wake of the tigers various troubles, other players are going to have to step up and make an impact this upcoming season.
Here are some of the players to watch in the upcoming season:
First and foremost, in the absence of Jordan Jefferson, the player the Tigers will look to make an impact is their new starting quarterback. While most memories Tigers fans may have of Lee are painful visions of opposing defenses running the other way with the ball in their hands, Lee proved to be a very effective weapon as a passer in key situations last season, playing a vital role late in games.
With Lee taking over the reins at quarterback, the LSU receiving core will have the chance to have a bigger impact in the offense. Lee is more of a pure passer than Jefferson, which will lead to receivers like Randle getting a chance to put up big numbers. Randle is an extremely talented receiver that has the ability to take over the game. In the past, Randle hasn't had the chance to live up to his potential due to the struggling Tigers quarterbacks. Lee will probably be looking for Rueben Randle early and often throughout the season.
With the loss of superstar corner Patrick Peterson, the Tigers will be entering the season with a very young secondary. Don't mistake the word "young" for untalented though, because these kids can play.
Mathieu is arguably the best member of the secondary, and alongside fellow corner Morris Claiborne and safety Eric Reid, the LSU secondary will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Mathieu is arguably the most talented member of this secondary, and after his stellar performance in last year's Cotton Bowl, he has already shown what he can do in big-time situations.
In recent years, a keystone of the LSU Tigers football team has been their stellar defensive line, and the Tigers have the ability to keep that going this season. Incoming freshman Anthony Johnson could very well become the heart of this defensive line, filling the shoes of DT Drake Nevis. The combination of speed and strength that Johnson brings to the table will make him a terror for opposing offenses. With the return of Lavar Edwards, Chancey Aghayere, Sam Montgomery and others, Johnson will have plenty of help getting after the QB.
Everyone's favorite player, the backup quarterback. With the past struggles of Lee, it is very possible that Mettenberger could end up under center sooner rather than later. The former Georgia Bulldog will start the season as the backup, but he could get his chance to take over if LSU's quarterback play is anywhere near as poor as it has been in recent seasons.
Others to Watch
While Russell Shepard is suspended, look for other receivers to step up and make an impact, including freshman WR Odell Beckham. The Tigers are bringing back a big group of running backs that will be getting a high amount of carries—including Michael Ford, Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue.
Look for all of these players and others to be key members of the LSU football team against Oregon as well as for the rest of the season.
LSU takes on Oregon in the Cowboys Classic this Saturday at 8pm ET