It’s probably LSU’s winning football tradition.
It’s also probably a load of teams in college football who, after Ohio State and TCU, all have big issues to face.
But having the Tigers start at No. 13 in the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll is a bit too high considering the questions LSU deals with entering the 2015 season.
The Tigers are coming off an 8-5 season with a loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl that left LSU unranked with their fewest wins since 2008.
LSU has a huge question mark at quarterback in terms of productivity, even if as expected the current criminal charges against Anthony Jennings are dropped and he returns to the team in time for the Sept. 5 opener against McNeese State.
The rest of the team is top-10 worthy, from running back to the lines to certainly the linebackers and secondary corps.
But that quarterback position, and subsequently the passing game that averaged just 162.9 yards per game to rank 114th in the nation, must improve. Significantly.
No. 13 is pretty close to where LSU started in 2003 at No. 14, a team with the only question at quarterback being how well recovered Matt Mauck was from a serious foot injury midseason the year before.
Is this LSU team in that category? At this point it’s not. And big worries over the passing game, plus smaller concerns about how Kevin Steele’s defense will pan out, are the big concerns.
I don’t have a vote in The Associated Press media poll this year (our Ross Dellenger is voting for the second straight season), but if I did I’d probably put LSU somewhere around No. 20. However, I would do something a lot of voters don’t when it comes to preseason rankings, which is to rethink my ranking if the Tigers start off strongly.
As for LSU’s schedule, it’s the typical SEC minefield, though maybe not as tough as some years appear to be on paper. LSU has home games with No. 7 Auburn in September (a crucial early litmus test) and No. 20 Arkansas in November. The November slate is a true grind with trips to No. 3 Alabama and No. 15 Ole Miss along with Arkansas and Texas A&M.
By November, LSU may well be worthy of a No. 13 ranking – or better. But the Tigers first have some proving to do.