LSU should reload in 2012

For those of you hoping you’ve heard the last of Les Miles and his LSU Tigers, think again.

While LSU came up short with a poor performance in its 21-0 loss to Alabama in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game Monday, the Tigers won’t be going anywhere.

In fact, they might be right back in the national title picture next season.

LSU returns most of the talent that helped the Tigers get to New Orleans, so that trip to South Beach for next year’s championship game is very much in play.

The quarterback position should receive an upgrade with Zach Mettenberger taking over, top receiving threats Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham return and LSU’s defense should return mostly intact.

“When you look at that you think we pretty much have the same team,” said sophomore defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who had 54 tackles, including 10 for loss last season. “There are little voids in our team, but they can be filled. That’s the best part about it.”

What might be the scariest part about LSU is the fact that along with Brockers, defensive linemen Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan were sophomores in 2011. So were defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid, along with linebacker Kevin Minter.

Offensive players around the SEC all just shuddered at once at the thought of that, but it gets worse. Cornerback Tharold Simon, who defended 12 passes and had two interceptions, will be a junior, and defensive linemen Anthony “Freak” Johnson, Ego Ferguson and Jermauria Rasco will only be sophomores.

Offensively, LSU brings back all four members of its bullish running team. Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue were all sophomores last season and combined for 2,002 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Oh, and freshman Kenny Hilliard might have the most talent of any of his running back partners. He came on late and rushed for 336 yards and eight touchdowns during his first season.

Beckham appears to be a real budding star in the SEC. He was second on the team with 41 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns. He showed deep threat ability along the way, but has tremendous hands. He can really go up and get passes.

Also, keep an eye on rising sophomore receiver Jarvis Landry. He only caught four passes this season, but he flashed some pretty good speed at times in 2011 and with his 6-foot, 190-pound frame, he’ll be able to get pretty physical with opposing defensive backs.

With the recruiting class Miles hauled in 2011, there will naturally be more names that emerge in 2012, and this year's recruiting class looks to be another stellar one for The Hat.

Monday was rough for the Tigers, but Mathieu said there is hope for the immediate future. There is certainly motivation in the loss to the Crimson Tide after what was turning into a truly historic season, but the Tigers will have no problem picking their heads up in 2012.

“Those guys are ready to get on the field, ready to make their mark,” Mathieu said. “That’s something to lean on right now.”

“We gotta get the ball back rolling and be in the same position next year and hopefully win it.”