BRYAN -- After rolling through the regular season undefeated and claiming the SEC championship, the LSU Tigers couldn’t quite finish and lost to Alabama in the National Championship game. That loss is driving the Bayou Bengals in 2012, as they look to defend their conference title and aim for a national title.
LSU got the best of Alabama 9-6 in overtime to claim the SEC West title year ago, but the Tide returned the favor in big way in the BCS National Championship game: holding the Tigers to just 92 total yards in a 21-0 shutout win. That loss will be in the back of the Tigers minds as they look to finish the job in 2012.
“It’s definitely motivation,” said safety Eric Reid. “You can ask anybody, they want to win a championship and we want to too. We’re just gonna work hard and hopefully we can get to Miami this year.”
Wide receiver Odell Beckham agreed, “We all think about it and it’s like a chip on our shoulder, but at the end of the day that’s last year and you have to kind of move on and focus on this season. I think we’ve all moved on and are ready for this season to start.”
Despite their struggles in the title game the LSU offense was the second best scoring-wise in the SEC a year ago. The Tigers rolled up over 200 yards per game on the ground but struggled at times in the passing game. That could change this season, as junior college stud Zach Mettenberger takes over under center.
LSU head coach Les Miles has confidence in his new quarterback. “We would expect that he would execute at a very high level. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a lot of growing pains. The point being is that he takes it a week at a time. You get four, five weeks into this thing he should be executing very, very well.”
Mettenberger said, "It's gonna be a big step. The last time I really took a meaningful snap in a game was junior college. It's gonna be a huge step playing in front of 100,000 instead of 5,000, but I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully I can live up to the hype and expectations."
The Tigers return five starters on defense, including the Honey Badger. Junior cornerback and return specialist Tyrann Mathieu had six fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and scored four touchdowns on the way to being named the national defensive player of the year.
“He’s definitely up there,” said Reid. “I have the pleasure of practicing with him every day. He’s a hard worker. He’s mastering his craft. Very quick, very explosive and I’m just excited to see what he can do this year.”
The Tigers come to Kyle Field for the first time since 1995 on October 20. They’ll open the season at home against North Texas on September 1.