LSU’s season was good, but it could have been great

By Darrell Laurant  |   Wednesday, November 29, 2006  |  Comments( 1 )

LSU Tigers
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College football is, it can be argued, the most unforgiving of all team sports.

For the elite -- the Ohio States, Michigans, Southern Cals and Floridas of the world -- it's like bomb disposal work. One slipup, and a whole season can be blown to pieces.

Consider the LSU Tigers. Normally, a 10-2 record for a member of the brutally competitive SEC would be considered a high accomplishment. But Les Miles' team was still left to ponder what might have been.

The cascade of "W's" tumbling down the Tigers' schedule was interrupted only twice -- a 7-3 loss to Auburn and a 23-10 setback against Florida. Both games could have gone either way (LSU outplayed Florida in many respects, but sunk itself with turnovers), but they didn't. So now the Bayou Bengals find themselves out of the SEC title game and hoping for a wild-card shot at a BCS bowl.

Still, it was a stimulating season for Tiger fans, who at least got to savor a victory over Arkansas (one of the two conference finalists) as dessert. And it was the first time in the school's history that the Tigers won 10 games back-to-back.

LSU was fearsome on defense and versatile on offense. But Miles and his staff had to work around serious problems at running back, where Alley Broussard proved too heavy and Justin Vincent too rusty, leaving freshmen Charles Scott and Keiland Williams to handle much of the load. Broussard and Vincent did come back to make solid contributions to the Arkansas victory.

Offensive Player of the Year: Hands down, JaMarcus Russell. The 6-foot-6 quarterback with the famously strong arm completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 2,797 yards and 26 touchdowns (against seven interceptions). Pro scouts salivated. Honorable mention has to go to wideout Dwayne Bowe, who caught 60 passes for 900-plus yards and 11 touchdowns, and wideout mates Craig Davis and Early Doucet weren't too shabby, either.

Defensive Player of the Year: A tie between veteran DB LaRon Landry (68 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and a sack) and sophomore linebacker Derry Beckwith, who was all over the field and second in tackles.

Rookie of the Year: Running back Keiland Williams, who was gradually folded into the offense until he became the go-to back late in the season.

Surprise of the Year: It's a surprise just to see someone 5-5, 159 pounds in a football uniform, but freshman Trindon Holliday added another dimension to the Tiger offense with his scary speed on kickoff returns and reverses. His 92-yard scoring return broke Arkansas' back.

Season's high point: Probably the victory over Arkansas, which at least closed the year on an "up" note.

Season's low point: The loss to Florida, in which a number of LSU players conspired to hand the game over to the Gators.
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