LSU and North Texas have met four previous times. The Tigers have won all four meetings and outscored North Texas 198-13 in those contests. LSU took the last meeting, 41-3, in 2008. LSU is rightly favored by a huge margin for this game against a North Texas team which is predicted to finish 8th in the Sun Belt.
The Tigers have lost both of their experienced quarterbacks from last season. This season's starter, Zach Mettenberger, threw just 11 passes in 2011, all in one game against Northwestern State. He did throw a touchdown and complete eight of his passes in wrapping up that game against the Demons. LSU's leading running backs from last season will be available. The running backs I'll be playing extra attention to are Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard. Blue had the highest rushing average (6.9) of the LSU running backs with at least five attempts per game in 2011. Hilliard led the Tigers with 249 yards and four rushing touchdowns over the last four games. With Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Bennie Logan, Tharold Simon and Eric Reid returning, the defense will be a strong point of the team again this season. However, North Texas should provide an opportunity to get plenty of young players on the field.
North Texas Leaders
North Texas returns their starting quarterback Derek Thompson. In non-conference games last season, Thompson completed 56 percent of his passes and had four touchdowns and two interceptions. Thompson does have some mobility but not enough to concern the Tigers. Because North Texas has lost their leading rushers from last season, Thompson is the top returning rusher with 113 yards. Linebacker Zach Orr led the Mean Green defense last season with 74 tackles in nine games. Orr also had two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
LSU head coach Les Miles has been saying that the team will have a more balanced offense this season, but the Tigers shouldn't need to show it and probably shouldn't show it off against North Texas. A distribution of around 40 rushing attempts and a max of 25 passing attempts should be all the Tigers need to put up 40+ points against the Mean Green.
As an LSU fan, I'm glad the long wait for the start of the 2012 college football season is finally over.
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Stats and information from LSU Sports.net and Mean Green Sports.com
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