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LSU Team Report



 
INSIDE SLANT

All season, LSU coaches and players talked about putting together a complete performance in which all of the Tigers' talents and efforts could come together, but it never seemed to come, even in victories over ranked teams such as Auburn, Alabama and Florida.

All of that changed in the Peach Bowl when the Tigers jumped all over No. 9 Miami for a dominating 40-3 victory that left LSU with a 10-2 record and a No. 5 ranking in the final USA Today coaches' poll.

"Everybody's been fussing about, 'When's LSU going to play their complete game?' I dare anybody to say it wasn't tonight," senior defensive tackle Kyle Williams said.

LSU coach Les Miles wasn't about to dispute Williams.

"As a coach, you want your team to play their best game last," Miles said. "And, you certainly want to win your last game. I thought we put together a complete game in all three phases against Miami.

"I'm very proud of what this team was able to accomplish this year and to play that way against a very good Miami team, I'm glad we were able to send the senior class off with a victory."

In the process, the returning Tigers dropped some serious hints at how good they can be in 2006 if they can come up with a few more complete performances in big games.

"I think LSU is becoming a dominant and prominent team again," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth told the Shreveport Times.

That's easy for Whitworth to say since he's one of 12 departing senior starters, six on both sides of the ball. The Tigers have some big holes to fill, particularly on both lines with Whitworth one of three offensive line starters completing their eligibility and tackles Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten and end Melvin Oliver all leaving the defensive line.

The Tigers also lose tailback Joseph Addai, receiver/return specialist Skyler Green, linebackers Kenneth Hollis, Cameron Vaughn and E.J. Kuale, and cornerbacks Ronnie Prude and Mario Stevenson. At the same time, they return 14 offensive players and 12 defensive players who either started or saw significant playing time in 2005.

The Tigers must solve a good problem with the return of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who started 12 games in 2005 before suffering a separated shoulder, and Matt Flynn, who played well when Russell missed the Peach Bowl, and redshirt freshman Ryan Perrilloux, the nation's top quarterback prospect when he signed with LSU last February.

"This win sets us up for next year and shows everybody who we want to be and what we can be," sophomore guard Will Arnold said.

NOTES, QUOTES

GAME OF THE YEAR: The Tigers spent all season talking about how good they could be if they ever put it all together for one game and they finally got it done in the Peach Bowl, taking control from the start and beating Miami, 40-3.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DT Kyle Williams -- Williams made the most of his senior season, earning first-team All-American and All-SEC honors in 2005 by recording 60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks for an LSU defense that ranked among the top 10 in the nation in four categories.

RAPID REVIEW: LSU entered the season with high hopes and expectations. Then Hurricane Katrina came along and threw the Tigers off track, turning one home game into a road game, postponing one game until later in the season and moving the Tennessee game from a Saturday to a Monday. By the time the second half of the Tennessee game came along, the Tigers looked spent and lost, 30-27, in overtime. The Tigers bounced back to become a tough team to beat in close games, beating Florida 21-17, Auburn 20-17 in overtime, Alabama 16-13 in overtime and Arkansas 19-17 to win the SEC West. In that context, a 34-14 loss to Georgia in the SEC championship proved to be a surprising result, but so did a 40-3 victory over Miami in the Peach Bowl to finish the season.

FAST FORWARD: The Tigers lose 12 senior starters and some experienced senior backups and must replace three starters on both the offensive and defensive lines. LSU has won a lot of games up front the past three seasons, so rebuilding the lines will be a key to LSU's success in 2006. If the lines become building blocks instead of stumbling blocks, the Tigers have the skill players to contend for another SEC West title.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our offensive line really put together a great game. It meant a lot to have a healthy Joe Addai and a healthy Will Arnold. I believe the offensive line was strongly motivated to take the pressure off Matt Flynn. When we were gaining yards on the ground that really helped Flynn. We couldn't ask him to do what we asked JaMarcus (Russell) to do. JaMarcus won games without a running game." -- LSU coach Les Miles following the Peach Bowl. With JaMarcus Russell sidelined by a separated shoulder, Matt Flynn played well in his first start with plenty of help from the running game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2006: QB JaMarcus Russell -- Russell grew into the starting job as a sophomore, completing 60.3% of his passes for 2,435 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions before playing his worst game of the season against Georgia and suffering a separated left shoulder. He missed the Peach Bowl and sophomore Matt Flynn played well in his first college start, so the quarterback job appears to be wide open entering the spring.

WR Dwayne Bowe -- He had trouble with dropped passes all season and still led the team with 41 catches, 710 yards and nine touchdowns. Then he went for an eye exam in December and found out he needed contacts and caught three passes for 51 yards without any drops in the Peach Bowl. Too bad contacts didn't help his judgment. It was Bowe who stole a game ball from a Miami ballboy and ignited a post-game melee after the Peach Bowl. If he ever gets his vision and his head together, he could be dangerous for the Tigers instead of to the Tigers.

G Will Arnold -- Injuries and illness limited his availability and productivity this season but he returned healthy for the Peach Bowl and made a big impact in the running game.

CANDIDATES FOR NEXT LEVEL

T Andrew Whitworth -- He has the size (6-6 and 325 pounds), smarts and technique to play at the next level, but he is not as athletic or natural as the better tackles in the draft, so he'll probably have to wait for the second or third round.

DT Claude Wroten -- An explosive, talented player with the ability and quickness to make big plays, but hasn't been as consistent or productive as he needs to be as a senior. Sometimes slow to react or make decisions and must improve technique and skills, but his upside will give him a chance on the first day, possibly even in the first round.

RB Joseph Addai -- Not a potential star but a solid all-around back who works hard, gets all he can out of an opportunity and brings the ability to pound or elude, protect or catch passes.

WR Skyler Green -- Explosive return specialist who has yet to make good on his potential as a receiver, but his potential will give him a chance to return kicks and be a third or fourth receiver at the next level.

DT Kyle Williams -- Tough, hard-nosed and resilient player who gets off the ball quickly and plays the run and pursues well, but gets overpowered too often and isn't effective enough as a pass rusher.

DE Melvin Oliver -- Quiet, underrated player who has showed signs of growing into his potential as a senior. He was especially productive in critical situations, getting up field and making plays when it's mattered most.

ROSTER REPORT: QB JaMarcus Russell could not play in the Peach Bowl because of a separated left shoulder he suffered in the third quarter of the SEC championship game, opening the door for sophomore Matt Flynn to make his first start. Flynn threw the quarterback job wide open with a level-headed performance, completing 13-of-22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns against the No. 1 pass defense and No. 3 total defense. "We've lived together, and Matt and I are great friends," LSU defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "I couldn't be more proud for him. The guy has waited his turn, competed effectively for the job, narrowly lost it, and for him to come in tonight, be the MVP, lead us to 40 points against the No. 1 defense in the country, I couldn't be more happy for Matt."

Previous Report: 12/31/2005


 

 

 


 
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