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Deke Bellavia

Join Deke and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert for live, local talk about the Saints, LSU, Pelicans and much more on "Sports Talk!" 

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Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com


Deke: Final Saints preseason game meaningless to some - not all

Records: Green Bay 1-2 / New Orleans 0-3
Last week's result: Houston beat New Orleans 27-13 and Green Bay lost to Philadelphia 39-26

To some, the last preseason game is meaningless. The Cajun Cannon describes it this way: "There are a lot of players throughout the history of this league that have made a team's roster based on what they did in the final preseason game. To some players, this is like a Super Bowl because they have to do whatever it takes to earn that roster spot."

Bobby also takes notes in his own unique way when out covering the Black and Gold. And instead of the same ole same game notes, I decided that I would use the CC's notes and get his take on what a former player is looking for in tomorrow night's last preseason game.

"I tend to look for certain players. As camp progresses, we kind of learn to follow the certain positions, and over the course of time, competition at some spots is more entertaining than others," he said.

Bobby says to keep an eye on Saints WR Brandon Coleman. "You want to see him take that next step. Can he do a better job of catching the football?"

Who's going to be the kicker? "Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker have both put themselves into position to where this final preseason game could very well be the deciding factor into which kicker Coach Payton keeps."

After the loss of CB Keenan Lewis, the watch at Saints CB is far more important than entertaining. Guys like Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Delvin Breaux and Damian Swann all figure to be in the mix to see who can step up in Lewis' absence.

The Saints have had some good action along their D-Line. A handful of players still are alive and well to see who claims roster spots on the interior defensive line. "I have liked the competition on the D-Line all camp long," Hebert said.

The Saints are just fine at the running back position, even with C.J. Spiller being out for a while. Tim Hightower has had an excellent training camp and now seemingly looks like he has a very good shot of making the Saints 53 man roster.

"If Spiller weren't hurt, I'm not sure that Hightower would be able to make the team. He's done enough to make it, but the position is so jammed up with good players that he might not make it. I think with Spiller being out, that means Hightower has a shot to make the roster."

Rookie RB Marcus Murphy has been one of the highlights of training camp in 2015. Last week the rookie out of Missouri averaged 11 yards per touch rushing, catching and returning the football for the Saints.
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Deke's Tiger Tidbits: LSU vs McNeese State preview

Thank God, it's finally game week! The 2015 college football season is here and the 13/14 ranked LSU Tigers open their season Saturday night in Death Valley against in-state foe McNeese State. The Tigers and Cowboys have met only once before, back in 2010, when LSU handed the Cowboys a 32-10 loss in Death Valley. Next week both teams open conference play with LSU visiting Mississippi State while McNeese State entertains Southland Conference foe Incarnate Word in Lake Charles.

LSU Coach Les Miles enters his 11th season as the school's second winningest coach with a mark of 103-29 at LSU and an overall record 131-49 in 14 seasons.

The Tigers still own the nation's longest regular season non-conference win streak. LSU has won 49 straight games with Coach Les Miles being 39-0 in non-conference regular season games at LSU. Coach Miles has protected Death Valley to the fullest, as he is perfect at 31-0 against non-SEC Teams in Tiger Stadium.

LSU is 88-28-5 in season openers in school history. The Tigers have won 12 straight season openers and 18 of their last 19. The last opening season loss came back in 2002 when the Tigers fell to Virginia Tech 26-8 in Blacksburg, VA.

Under the Hat
Under Les Miles, the Tigers have achieved the following:
  • LSU has played 127 of their 132 games ranked in the top 25.
  • LSU is 54-9 when the Tigers win the turnover battle.
  • LSU is 46-5 when a RB gains 100 yards or more.
  • LSU enters the 2015 college football season as the winningest program in the SEC the last 10 years. The Tigers lead the SEC with 103 wins which also ranks LSU 4th nationally in wins since 2005. Boise State (113), Ohio State (109) and Oregon (105) are ahead of LSU.

Rush for 100
Sure the scoreboard says it all. But when it comes to Les Miles all you need to do is look at the box score. Since Les Miles came to Baton Rouge in 2005, he Tigers have never lost when they rush for 100 yards and hold their opponent under 100 yards. LSU is a perfect 57-0 when they accomplish that feat!

Who's wearing #18?
The tradition of wearing jersey #18 continues in Tigerland. Ever since the 2003 season when then QB Matt Mauck helped guide the Tigers to the national title, each year one player is chosen to wear the honorable #18. This season Tigers CB Tre'Davious White will sport #18. White is a Junior CB for the Tigers defense.
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People : Les MilesMatt Mauck




 

Deke: Saints did not look good against Texans

It was about as ugly and boring a game at any time of the season (pre-season/regular) that anyone could ever wish not to see.  The Saints and Texans took to the field Sunday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and aside from everyone bringing their own pillow with them it was was nap time in the Big Easy.

I caught myself with my eyes closed on two occasions in the second quarter and I said to myself, man I better wake up before Hebert sees me.  Hell, he was nodding too!  It was supposed to be the most meaningful pre-season game, but it was flat out bad, ugly and the Saints did not look too good.  And if you factor in who was not playing for the Texans, well then it makes things look a little worse, and sadly they actually are.

Let’s take a look at the Saints and Texans and a few observations I came up with. 

On a positive note

In their 27-13 loss to the Texans, if you look at the glass half full then you would point to the Saints' first team offense and how they looked on their first drive of the game.  Drew Brees led his offense down the field with a 12 play 75 yard drive that led to a 28 yard field goal.  After that the report was lukewarm at best.

West Banked-OUT

He’s from the West Bank but on Sunday we did not see the best from #21 Keenan Lewis.  On the Texans first drive of the game, the Saints veteran CB was responsible for giving up a total of five plays for 64 yards.  Lewis was victimized by Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins for a 29 yard reception and #21 was flagged twice on the drive once for being off sides and once for pass interference. 

M-n-M

“He’s making this team, he’s making this team.”  What else needs to be said.  Coach Sean Payton said that after the Saints and Texans game and he was speaking of Saints rookie RB Marcus Murphy.  The Saints signed free agent RB C.J. Spiller this off season in the hopes of finding that every-down type RB.  Well the Saints have found that every down back in the fast, speedy and versatile rookie.  Against the Texans, Double M touched the football 13 times for a total of 141 yards.  Murphy carried the ball eight times for 43 yards, had three receptions for 67 yards, one punt return for 11 yards and returned a kickoff for 20 yards.  Murphy averaged 10.8 yards per touch in the Texans game and the former Missouri Tiger has made impact plays in all three pre-season games.   

Waving those flags

For the second time in three preseason games the Saints gave were penalized for over 140 yards and double digit flags.  Against the Texans the Saints were flagged 11 times for 148 yards.  I know it’s the pre-season but the Saints need to clean up real quick! 

Cut time #1

Tuesday the Saints and the other 31 NFL Teams have to trim their rosters down to 75 players.  The final cut of getting down to 53 is Saturday afternoon at 3PM. 
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Bobby: Saints offense gets slight edge at Thursday practice

After the seemingly improving New Orleans Saints defense had gotten the best of them at each of the last two Black and Gold practices, the offense stepped up and took what our resident pro Bobby Herbert says was a slight edge. 

Practice today at Saints camp on Airline Drive was under dream-like weather conditions.  “Anytime you get weather like this, players have a little more pep in their step.  It felt like football weather today and I thought it was a good, crisp, sharp practice."

Bobby’s notes had WR #10 Brandin Cooks hauling in a 40 yard grab beating CB Brian Dixon.  Cooks would later beat CB Delvin Breaux for a TD in the drill.  CB Delvin Breaux had a shot at making an interception but the ball hit his facemask falling incomplete.

Second year CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste was active today. #23 had good coverage on WR Brandon Coleman, but then got beat on a later one on one battle with WR Jalen Saunders.  

Can I kick it?
The daily kicking report on the new feet to the franchise had Zach Hocker going 2-for-4 on his field goal attempts while Dustin Hopkins was perfect today, going an impressive 4-for-4.

7 on 7
In the Saints seven on seven drill TE Josh Hill came up with a couple of nice receptions, beating LB Henry Coley.  Coley would later come up with nice pass coverage against WR Seantavius Jones. 

Saints RB Tim Hightower reeled off runs of 20 yards and 10 yards in the drill.  Bobby thinks due to his play and injuries to others, Hightower may be in town for a while.  “I think when you look at Spiller being out and what Hightower has done, he could be with the team for a while.”

Team Drills
When the Saints offense took on the Saints defense, QB Luke McCown hit WR RJ Harris on a 40 yard gain.  The Saints then began to work on two minute/hurry up offense.  QB Ryan Griffin hit WR Willie Snead on a skinny post for a 20 yard gain, WR Brandon Coleman beat CB Keenan Lewis on a long TD play for about 40 yards.  Drew Brees hit Ben Watson for about a 15 yard gain and then hit WR Brandin Cooks for an eight yard gain.  And then Brees hit TE Josh Hill for a 12 yard TD.

Up next
The Saints will practice at Tulane tomorrow night from 7PM-9PM.  Practice is free and open to the public 
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Deke: Will the SEC win a national title this year? Here's the rankings

SEC, SEC, SEC!  The mighty SEC has not won a national title in two years.  Is that a drought?  For this conference it is.  Here are my first SEC rankings of the season.  Enjoy! 

1.      Alabama – Maybe the best front three in college football history?  A slew of RB’s and a tenacious defense - but no starting QB with experience!  Oh no, what does that mean?  Roll Tide Roll!

2.     Georgia – RB Nick Chubb is as legit as they come, and these Dogs look like the class of the East.  But will they be?

3.     LSU – Yes, they have QB problems, but when don’t they?  And if they can get a decent QB - oh snap!  Back to the ATL dey shall GEAUX!

4.     Ole Miss – Like Bama and LSU, the Rebs are sound across the board with the exception at QB.  This Rebels roster is as talented as any. Hotty Toddy!

5.     Auburn – Another team that is loaded on offense and will score at least 40 points per game this season.  But can they play defense when it matters most?  Will Muschamp says hell yes they will! WAR EAGLE!

6.     Missouri – QB Matty Mauck and another underrated team means that Coach Gary Pinkel will again be overlooked in the SEC East.  Hey rest of the world - this team has won the last two SEC East crowns.  That’s no easy feat!

7.     Arkansas – The biggest O-Line in the nation, a good running game, improved defense and a rising QB.  Does that mean pork’s for dinner?  I’ll bring the sauce!  Let’s eat.

8.     Tennessee – The sexy pick in the East with 18 starters back this season, yet some say still a season away from getting back to the top.  Oh well, being on the top of the mountain in good ole Rocky Top will just have to do for now.

9.     South Carolina – Their defense can’t be as crappy, and this season look for WR Pharaoh Cooper to become one of the top playmakers in the nation.

10.     Florida – Florida seemingly has a new young QB to lead them back to the land of scoring 7’s not 3’s.  And the Gators always have a good defense.  Don’t sleep on this team but maybe a nap is ok in 2015.

11.     Texas A&M – The SEC West is so deep I could see every team with at least eight wins by the end of the bowl season.  A fast start could happen with a win over a very good Sun Devils team next weekend.

12.     Mississippi State – How can a team that was ranked #1 for five weeks in 2014 be ranked dead last in their own division?  That’s life in the SEC West.  I’m here to tell you these barking dogs will knock off a big boy or two this season.  How do I know you ask?  Cause Dak (Prescott) said so!

13.     Kentucky – After a 5-1 start last season, the UK Cats fell apart.  I like this team and I like what Coach Stoops is doing.  I think a bowl is coming this season. 

14.     Vanderbilt – Well they can’t be as bad as they were last season can they?  Vanderbilt was once a good program and then what?  James Franklin left for Penn State Deke! Duh! I get it I get it now I do! 
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Bobby: Saints WR Colston definitely still has it

For veteran players in the NFL, after being in the league for a handful of years their age comes into question, as does whether or not that player can still be productive.  The Cajun Cannon says that #12 WR Marques Colston was as smooth and cool as the pleasant summer breeze today. Colston had a very good day.  He beat StanleyJean-Baptiste for about a 10 yard gain, and generally, Colston is having a very good camp this year.  

The Cajun Cannon says
Bobby noted a lot of highlights from the Saints offense today.  Bobby said that Saints QB Drew Brees hit WR Joe Morgan on a long pass. “He beat Rafael Bush to pick up a TD,” Bobby said.  

Bobby said that Morgan and Bush did a little smack talking to each other during some exchanges today. “I like to see the players get after each other, and I think it’s good for competition.  Morgan and Bush both made some plays today and it was some good exchanges between the two.”  

WR Lance Lewis was active on Special Teams.  “He redeemed himself after he dropped a pass from QB Garret Grayson.  Lewis came down field and beat the double team and was in position to make a good play on return coverage.”
 
Delvin Breaux is the real deal

The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert says Saints CB Delvin Breaux is the real deal, and calls out a few other players who impressed today. Awesome!

Posted by WWL Radio on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rafael Bush had a sack this morning on QB Drew Brees in team drills. “It was legit... he needed to make up for being burned by WR Joe Morgan earlier and Bush did make up for that with the sack,” Herbert said.

Other defensive notes from Bobby included Saints LB Kasim Edebali doing a good job in pass coverage as he defended a pass during team drills.  “Edebali had a good day overall.  He did well in team drills and he sacked QB Ryan Griffin.”

DT Kevin Williams had a sack and DT Jon Jenkins batted down a pass during the team portion of practice.  And to close out the day, Saints LBs Jerry Franklin and Henry Coley did good in covering the Saints tight ends Orson Charles and Josh Hill.

Bobby said that QB Ryan Griffin had a bad day today.  “He did not have one of his best days.  He struggled throwing the ball, as he overthrew a couple of times, he got sacked - today was one of Griffin’s poorest days.”

Up next for the Saints, the Black and Gold will practice in the morning from 11AM to 1:30PM and then the Saints will practice at Tulane Friday night from 7PM to 9PM.
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Deke: Steele and Orgeron will get the best out of Tiger defense

If emotion helps win games, then look for the Bayou Bengals to win a lot.  To say that LSU defensive line Coach Ed Orgeron is an emotional person is an understatement.  
 
This past January, Coach Les Miles added Alabama linebackers Coach Kevin Steele as his new defensive coordinator, and Orgeron signed on to be the Tigers D-Line Coach.
 
And so far from what Coach Miles and others close to the program have said, Steele and Coach O are already making a difference.  I'd say for the last six recruiting classes (at least), LSU has signed some of the nation's top defensive line prospects.  And the majority of those prospects have not met their pre-college expectations.
 
Now with a coach that has a resume as impressive as perhaps anyone could have, and looking at players that have learned from Coach O and the amount of success those players have had, LSU's future on the D-Line is as bright as it has been in a long time.
 
I am expecting a complete transformation of the Tigers D-Line at end and in the interior part of the line.  Orgeron is a coach that can get the maximum potential of the players at the position.  Steele and Orgeron seem like a good fit that should benefit the Tigers defense. 
 
Coach O’s strength of getting players to produce their best is something Tiger fans look forward to.  Names that came into the program that may have not been heard as loudly since those players inked scholarships should be brought back into the fold this season.  Players like Cortez Kennedy and Simeon Rice are just two of many college football greats that Coach Orgeron has taught in his previous coaching years on the college level.
 
Current players at the defensive end position include Deondre Clark, Isaiah Washington and Lewis Neal and the depth at defensive tackle is something I expect will be much better this season and in seasons to come. 
 
After a breakout freshman season, sophomore Davon Godchaux has gotten good praise from Coach Orgeron, and when you toss in fellow starting DT Christian LaCouture, LSU looks good on the starting line interior wise.
 
But to me, strength in defensive line numbers plays heavily in a team’s success or lack thereof. Coach O told me and the Cajun Cannon that DT’s Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron, and Quentin Thomas have all had good fall camps with the Tigers.
 
So as the Tigers kick off the season in less than two weeks on September 5 against McNeese State, taking a look at the new defense and especially the Tigers defensive line is something that I am interested and honestly excited about. 
 
And I think that if Coach Steele and Coach Orgeron can get the best out of the players LSU has on hand, we can expect to see an improved defense that features one of the better defensive lines in the SEC in 2015. 
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Resident Pros: Saints defense gets upper hand at Tuesday practice

Both of our resident pros agree that the Saints defense had the edge at today’s practice.  “I think the defense has played well as of late. Going back to the Patriots game and the last two practices, I like what I’ve seen from the Saints defense,” said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan.  

The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert  agrees with his former teammate. “I think our secondary has been doing a good job.  We’ve had to deal with injuries back there, but players have stepped up and made plays.”

The Saints defense came up with two interceptions at today’s practice and has so far tallied nine interceptions during the total practices at training camp.#43 Vinnie Sunseri is leading the pack with five interceptions to his credit.

Hokie’s Call
Hokie Gajan highlighted several defensive backs and plays they made today. “I saw CB Keenan Lewis break up a pass, Brian Dixon made a couple of nice break ups and I thought Kyle Wilson was very active out there today."

Hokie said that all he can go by is what he sees each day, and lately the Saints defense has looked better.  “This third pre-season game is the most important. Is it a must that the defense plays good... you would like to see the defense continue to play well and take another step in the right direction.”

On offense Hokie pointed out some of the Saints wide receivers that stood out.  “Willie Snead just keeps making plays.  He really got the best of rookie DB Damian Swann this morning in one on one drills.  I thought Joe Morgan used his speed to take advantage of busted coverage to haul in a long reception, and Jalen Saunders had two nice grabs - one from QB Luke McCown."

Hokie said that Saints RB Tim Hightower got a lot of carries at today’s practice. “You see a guy like Hightower and you tend to pull for him in his comeback.  He’s doing everything he can as far as play on the field but it seems like it’s going to be hard for him to make the team.”

Saints D Has another strong day at practice

Posted by WWL Radio on Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Cajun Cannon says
We all know the Cajun Cannon and all of his unique sayings he uses - one of his more common used being “look at the glass half full instead of half empty.”  With that frame of mind, the Cajun Cannon is concerned with the lack of a pass rush from the Saints defense thus far.

“We’re not seeing a rush at practice or in games.  A good pass rush aids the secondary in pass coverage.  We are getting good pass coverage and if we could get a consistent pass rush our defense could be that much more improved this season," Bobby said

Bobby continued saying that Saints DB’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Terrance Fredrick both had interceptions this morning at practice.  “We should have actually had three pick-offs but we were able to get two interceptions today.”

Bobby gave good marks to LBs Henry Coley and Jerry Franklin.  “Both of those LBs have a shot to make this team.  Their youth, the way they impact special teams and both have taken good snaps at the linebacker position. Franklin had a good game against New England and looked good at practice and Coley also was active today.”

Up next
The Saints will practice on Wednesday from 11AM to 1:30PM with the practice open to the public at the Saints Facility on Airline highway.  
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Deke: The spirit of New Orleans was alive during Katrina

There are so many things running through my head right now when I think back to ten years ago.  Seeing so many people that needed help to live, and seeing those people not getting help until sadly it was too late.

One night as I was hosting while we were a part of United Radio, I got a call from a lady named Margaret.  She got about two sentences out and then she exploded on air with emotion that led to her crying and just breaking down.

Margaret had finally reached her point of having enough. This total stranger sounded desperate and she obviously needed help.  Margaret, like so many others had no lights, she had no food, she had no anything. I can remember trying to let her get her message of need across the airwaves, and at the same time I had to gather myself from boiling over with my own emotion of just listening to this lady that was crying, pleading for help.

Then and I must say, to no surprise, our phone board got lit up with people wanting an address of where Margaret lived how to get in touch with her.  And wouldn’t you know, later that night before my show was over people had gone and helped Margaret get her lights back on, many brought her food and some had even offered a total stranger - someone they had never heard of or had never met - a place to live.

To me, that was the real spirit, pride and uniqueness of New Orleans.  I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but unless you’re from here, all of us who are can do is try to explain - caring for others and giving everything we’ve got (and many don’t have much to give) is just what we do down here.

After hearing Margaret’s call, and seeing the way the people in this region responded gave me reassurance that everything was going to be alright because we are fighters.  People in this city care and they show love.  
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Deke: A preseason look at the top ten teams in college football

Each week during the season I rank what I think are the top 10 college football teams - here is my first poll of the 2015 season!

1.     Ohio State – Three major, big time playmakers at QB, the nation’s highest rated RB, a speedy WR and several first round defensive prospects lead me to start off with the Buckeyes.  It’s always harder to repeat as a national champion, but this team has as good as a shot as any.

2.    Alabama – I always go with sure money. Yes, they have a new QB again and only three returning starters back on offense.  But I’m banking on seven starters back on defense, including three first round picks along their D-Line to carry the Tide this season.  Oh yes, RB Derrick Henry ain’t too bad either!

3.    Baylor – Baylor or TCU here is basically the same thing.  I just like the fact that the Bears have nine starters back on defense this season.  DE Shawn Oakman is going to have NFL scouts drooling even more over his skills and his mountain-like 6-9 height, and his fellow D-linemen give Baylor as legit as a defense as the Bears have had in a long time. For a offense that will average at the very least 41 points per game, Baylor does not need much defense, but they will get it this year!

4.    TCU – Again, it’s a toss up with Baylor and the Frogs at three and four.  QB Trevone Boykin looks to pick up where he left off after a 42-3 showing in the Horned Frogs blowout bowl win over a very good Ole Miss team.  TCU has 10 starters back on offense, but just five on defense.  Road games at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma lead me to think that one road loss is likely.  And then there is that season ending regular season finale on a Friday night with Baylor coming to Fort Worth!

5.    Auburn – Auburn is a team that will score on anyone they play, and a team that has gotten better with the addition of former Florida Coach Will Muschamp.  Like the teams ranked above, Auburn does not need much defense.  But the Tigers have some talent on defense and two of the SEC’s most touted freshmen defenders in the fold.  

6.    Oregon – The Ducks are a consistent program that will be in the hunt for years to come.  Replacing QB Marcus Mariota is nothing to sneeze at, but Oregon has a well balanced offensive attack that allows plug and play players to step right in.  Look for the Ducks to again be the team to beat in the Pac-12 until otherwise.  

7.    Michigan State – The NFL’s top rated QB leads a team that always has one of the nation’s best defensive units.  Connor Cook looks to be NFL ready and the Spartans should be better on defense in 2015.  MSU allowed 21.5 points per game in 2014 which was eight more points per game than allowed in 2014.  A week two home date with Oregon looks interesting and mid season road games at Michigan and Nebraska could be dangerous.  Then a late season trip to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes followed by a home date with Penn State looks harder than it appears.  Ranking the Spartans here is out of respect for their coaching and their program.  I would not be shocked if this team loses three or more games this season.

8.    Georgia – Nick Chubb at RB and four returning starters to the O-Line give me hope that if all else fails, these Dogs will line up and pound the rock.  Georgia’s defense improved greatly last season allowing just over 20 points per game.  If that can stay the same in 2015, the Dogs will win the SEC East again in 2015.

9.    Notre Dame – I like the way the Irish finished the season and Notre Dame now has their QB in Malik Zaire. I think the Irish will be a double digit win team in 2015 and we know how the media loves the Irish!

10.    LSU – Yes, kind of a homer pick, but I’m betting on some "what if’s" coming true for LSU.  LSU is a decent QB away from being a solid top six team.  The O-Line is set with some of the best in the nation and the Tigers defensive front seven will finally catch up to the consistent salty play of their defensive backfield.  A week three win over Auburn is a must for the Tigers to be ranked this high this soon.  

Others in the hunt:  Clemson, USC, Arkansas, Ole Miss, UCLA and Florida State.  
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