Starters returning: 9
Starters returning: 5
LSU has one particular star, Tailback Charles Alexander. He stands 6'1", weighs 214 and hails from Galveston, Texas. He runs fast (4.35 for the 40) and often (28.3 attempts per game). He blocks, he catches passes and he is so modestly team-oriented that he avoids talk of his achievements. But if LSU is to improve on last year's 8-3 record, Coach Charlie McClendon is going to have to have better passing to take the burden off his Heisman candidate. He also requires rapid development on defense.
After two knee operations and a redshirt season, senior Cornerback Clinton Burrell could be McClendon's anchor in the secondary. Willie Teal and Chris Williams, who combined for 81 tackles last season, should do much to steady the Tigers at free safety and cornerback.
At quarterback McClendon finds himself with two talented juniors of sharply differing styles. David Woodley is a runner with 4.6 speed who had an excellent spring; Steve Ensminger is a passer who missed spring practice with an ankle injury. Considering the need for passing, Ensminger, if healthy, should be McClendon's starter. Whoever leads the offense will be blessed with an abundance of speed in Alexander, Fullback LeRoid Jones (4.5) and Split Ends Willie Turner (4.35) and Carlos Carson (4.3). The latter caught 10 touchdown passes in 1977.
Since 1974 the Tigers' disabled list has turned promising springs into disastrous autumns, and McClendon's job security has become tenuous. Now entering his 17th season as head coach at LSU, McClendon is in the last year of a two-year contract. In 1977 the Tigers had a heart-stopping habit of rallying to win: three of the comeback victories were achieved after LSU had been down by 10, 15 and 21 points. McClendon says, "I hope we don't have to go through anything like that again this year." Unless the Tigers must to win, coach. If they repeat that pattern of catch-up play but fail to catch up, McClendon's position will be insecure indeed.