The charging of Jeremy Hill, leaves the LSU Tigers with a mountain to climb in the SEC this season.
Jeremy Hill, the RB for the Louisiana State University has been charged with misdemeanor simple battery in connection with a late-night scuffle outside a night club in April. Head coach, Les Miles, has said the player is suspended pending the investigation coming to a conclusion. Hill is not helped by already being on probation following a January 2012 incident.
The loss of Jeremy Hill for legal issues, will be a big blow to the running back core although Kenny Hilliard (82-464-6 TDs) and Alfred Blue (40-270-2 TDs) showed flashes of talent, especially Blue who is now in his last season before graduation, and will want to end his college career in style following a season ending knee injury suffered in the third game of last season.
Les Miles will again have a tough defence to succeed in the ultra-competitive SEC yet he will require a bit more of his starting quarterback, Zach Mettenberger who threw for only 2609 yards and 12 touchdowns.
They do still have Odell Beckham at wide receiver who was nominated for the Paul Hornung award, for college football's most versatile player, along with Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and South Carolina receiver, Bruce Ellington. Last season, Beckham had 713 receiving yards for 2 touchdowns and was the leading receiver for the Tigers last year, although junior Jarvis Landry had the most receiving touchdowns, with 5 for 573 yards, and senior Kadron Boone, 348 yards for 4 TDs.
The Tigers are traditionally stingy team to score against, they are also a tough team to predict how many points they will score. LSU finished with an average of 29.8 ppg placing them 59th in the national statistics, yet they conceded only 17.5 ppg for a position of 12th in the nation. The defence this year may have lost some personnel to the draft, including Barkevious Mingo who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
However, this team is used to reloading along the defensive line. Tackle Anthony Johnson has the meat and ability to be one of the best at his position, and excels as both a run-stopper and pass-rusher. He'll be helped by junior Ego Ferguson, who has all the talent to be successful but is still looking to reach his full potential. The staff is expecting big things from end Jermauria Rasco, who might be a better pure pass-rusher than Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery before him. Danielle Hunter and Jordan Allen should do more at end, while incoming freshman Tashawn Bower could see immediate playing time.
Off the field conduct has been a thorn in the Tigers side for recent seasons, following on from the Tyrann Mathieu incident and another legal issue will not help LSU attempt to come out of the shadows of the Alabama Crimson Tide who are ruling the SEC West currently. Last season, the Tigers finished 10-3 overall, 6-2 in Conference play, yet their overall record was 1 game behind the improving Texas A&M Aggies who have Johnny Manziel leading the charge.
Their 2013 schedule does not look favourable, with road games against Georgia (Sept 28th), Miss State (Oct 5th) and Alabama (Nov 9th), at best you can see LSU finishing with a 9-4 record. This will be dependent upon the improvements required by senior players like Mettenberger and the returning Blue to make plays, and the ever reliant defence to nullify the exceptional quarterbacks in the SEC - Aaron Murray, Manziel and AJ McCarron.