LANDRY IS FLEET AND FIERCE. NOW HE MUST DEVELOP INTO THE LEADER THE DEFENSE
2005 RECORD 11-2
(7-1 in SEC West)
KEY RETURNEES RB
Alley Broussard (Jr.) LSU's top rusher in 2004, he missed last season with a
torn right ACL LB Ali Highsmith (Jr.) The 6'1", 226-pound head-banger led
the Tigers with three forced fumbles last season WR Dwayne Bowe (Sr.) Had 41
catches for 710 yards and nine touchdowns in '05 but dropped too many balls.
The 6'3" 217-pounder underwent LASIK surgery in the off-season
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS
JaMarcus Russell has engineered six come-from-behind victories in the fourth
quarter or in overtime, thrown 24 touchdown passes and won 14 of his 16 starts.
Last fall the 6'6", 252-pound junior completed 60.5% of his throws for
2,443 yards and 15 touchdowns in 12 games before wrist and shoulder injuries
forced him to miss the Peach Bowl and much of spring practice. Coach Les Miles
pronounced Russell "completely healed," but if he falters the Tigers
have a capable backup in junior Matt Flynn.
Asked why he
chose not to declare for last April's NFL draft, even though he was likely to
be a mid- to late-first-round pick, senior free safety LaRon Landry ticks off a
couple of reasons: to win the Bednarik Trophy as the nation's top defensive
player, and to help the Tigers take their second BCS championship in four
years. Then, after a pause, he adds, "And because I wanted to be part of
the Number 1 secondary in the nation."
204-pounder from Ama, La., is one of three starters returning from a deep and
talented backfield that led the SEC in pass efficiency defense in 2005. Senior
strong safety Jessie Daniels is an experienced signal-caller with 136 tackles
in 24 starts, while junior cornerback Chevis Jackson has speed to spare. The
second corner slot will go to junior Jonathan Zenon, another burner who saw
extensive action last season in nickel and dime packages. Then there's Landry,
a fourth-year starter who has been an impact player since his freshman season,
when he led LSU's 2003 title team with 80 tackles. Fast and physical, he's
nearly unbeatable in pass coverage; he broke up eight passes and had three
interceptions last year. Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini can't wait to turn
Landry loose on the blitz this fall. "He can run and cover like a
corner," says Pelini, "and he can also play like a linebacker. He gives
us a lot of versatility."
That will come in
handy on a defense that has gaps to fill, with two new starters at linebacker
and three on the line. Plenty of talent remains, though, including the
fleet-footed Highsmith and 6'2", 284-pound tackle Glenn Dorsey, one of the
strongest players on the team, who saw extensive action as a reserve last
With a matchup
against SEC West rival Auburn looming on Sept. 16, the defense must come
together quickly to realize Landry's BCS goal. Pelini has been urging his star
to be a more vocal leader-a role that should come easily to a communications
major. "We have lots of experience in the backfield," Landry says.
"It's my job to help out the younger guys and to mentor them. That's going
to be so important this year."