LSU’s Offense vs. TCU’s Defense
This might be one of the best offenses LSU has fielded in a long time. With the reinstatement of running back Jeremy Hill, the Tigers have a deep stable of talented ball carriers to go along with senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mix in a group of experienced, tall wide receivers and four veteran linemen up front and it’s no wonder fans are expecting big things from new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron’s squad.
Meanwhile, TCU perennially fields one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. This season should be no different as the Horned Frogs are led by preeason All-Big 12 selections Devonte Fields and Jason Verrett. Fields is just a sophomore, but is one of the best defensive ends in the country. Verrett spurned the NFL for a chance to complete his senior season at cornerback. Defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas is entering his 10th season in Fort Worth.
The Case For LSU’s Offense
Cameron is supposed to help Mettenberger live up to his potential. At times, Mettenberger played stellar last season, such as his performance against Alabama. Other times he looked less than average, like his game at Florida. If he can play consistent to above average, LSU’s ground-and-pound attack will be that much more potent.
There are three capable running backs and a huge fullback to compliment Mettenberger in the backfield. Alfred Blue, a senior returning from injury, and junior Kenny Hilliard are capable of being the featured back should Hill get into trouble again. Massive senior fullback J.C. Copeland has proven to be effective as a blocker and a receiver coming out of the backfield.
LSU’s top four receivers are back, led by Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., both juniors. Due to a significant number of injuries and defections last fall, the Tigers’ offensive line now is brimming with experience. The only replacement of note is at center where junior Elliott Porter takes over for three-year starter P.J. Lonergan.
The Case For TCU’s Defense
Coach Gary Patterson is known for his 4-2-5 defensive scheme, which is capable of bringing tons of pressure and providing excellent pass coverage. It is truly a multiple defense that serves the team well in the wide-open Big 12. In its first year in the league, TCU finished first in the conference in total defense and rushing defense.
Up front, Fields leads the charge after recording 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. He was voted as the conference’s top defensive lineman as a freshman. Patterson realizes all that attention means Fields will draw a lot more double teams. That means someone else in the front six will have to step up.
Verrett, who had six interceptions last season and led the Big 12 in passes defensed, leads the back five. Patterson and Bumpas always seem to have the right coverage called and their guys always seem to be in the right place. That tendency should stay the same this season as TCU returns a total of nine starters from its aggressive defense.
The Winner: LSU’s Offense
There’s just too much beef up front and too many talented running backs to envision TCU’s defense being able to shut down the Tigers’ rushing attack for all four quarters. It would be no surprise if the Horned Frogs' defense begins to suffer from fatigue and injuries late in the game. Not to mention if Cameron and Mettenberger really can work their magic, TCU’s secondary will get burned a few times.
This should be a fantastic match-up of strength against strength. LSU’s offense is expected to carry the load this year as opposed to their defense, which has always carried the Tigers.