- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Schedule: The Tigers will hold their first preseason practice on Monday. Their first day in full pads will be Friday, Aug. 9.
On the mend: Defensive end Jermauria Rasco and cornerback Jalen Mills both missed the last part of spring to undergo shoulder surgeries, but should be ready to go this preseason. Running back Alfred Blue is coming back from a torn ACL suffered in the third game last season. He was held out of contact this spring, but will open preseason camp as one of the Tigers’ top running backs. Blue had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games before going down a year ago. Vadal Alexander, the Tigers’ starting right offensive tackle, was also forced to miss part of the spring with an injured knee.
Key battle: Defensive coordinator John Chavis likes his young talent at linebacker and will see to it that he gets his best three players on the field. Finding a replacement for Kevin Minter in the middle is the first priority. Senior Lamin Barrow could slide in there after racking up 104 tackles last season on the weak side. Junior D.J. Welter will get the first shot in the middle, while sophomore Lamar Louis could also be an option there after starting five games at strong side linebacker last season. Sophomore Kwon Alexander may be the most talented of the bunch and will vie with senior Tahj Jones for the starting strong side job. Welter and Jones missed all but the bowl game last season because of academics. Others to watch are sophomore Deion Jones, redshirt freshman Lorenzo Phillips and promising true freshmen Kendell Beckwith and Melvin Jones.
Of note: LSU has finished ninth or worse in the SEC in passing offense each of the last four seasons. The Tigers were 11th last season, 10th in 2011, 12th in 2010 and ninth in 2009.
Predicted order of finish: Picked third in the West at SEC media days.
They said it: “Everybody has their own opinion. We know every year that we have a chance to contend for the SEC title and national title, so we’ll control the things we can control and see who’s better on that day.” – LSU receiver Jarvis Landry