Publish date:

13 LSU The resurgent Tigers are loaded at the skill positions and have big expectations to fulfill

Middle linebacker Treverance Faulk knew the fans cared, but he
didn't know how much until the purple-and-gold-clad masses
stormed the Tiger Stadium field last season after LSU's stirring
wins over Tennessee and Alabama. "There were even old men
running around," Faulk says. "They were hugging me, crying. It
was unbelievable."

Not entirely. On Feb. 7 some of these same fans showed up, about
4,000 strong, at the Sheraton Atrium in Baton Rouge and stayed
for 10 hours to cheer as the names of LSU's latest recruiting
class were flashed across a big-screen television. With the
Tigers coming off a surprising 8-4 season and buoyed by the
return of 17 starters--not to mention a recruiting class ranked
among the top three in the nation by most gurus--second-year coach
Nick Saban needs to deal with runaway expectations.

"The challenge facing a lot of our guys, who didn't experience
success until last year, is handling that success," Saban says.
"Some horses run better from behind. We have to learn how to run
from ahead."

Saban will be aided in that task by the 6'3", 225-pound Faulk, a
junior who led LSU with 113 tackles last year and enters his
second season as one of the team's captains. Faulk, whose cousin
Kevin was an All-America for the Tigers in 1996 and plays running
back for the New England Patriots, not only takes his teammates
to task on the field but also chides those who miss a class or
study hall. He leads a defense that has 10 starters back,
including fellow junior linebacker Bradie James, who had 110
tackles and five sacks in 2000.

The offense is loaded at the skill positions. Senior quarterback
Rohan Davey, who came off the bench to win offensive MVP honors
in a 28-14 Peach Bowl win over Georgia Tech, has the starting job
to himself with the early departure of Josh Booty to the NFL.
Davey has the luxury of throwing to experienced receivers and
handing off to a backfield topped by sophomore LaBrandon Toefield
(682 yards).

The Tigers are no powerhouse--they outscored their SEC foes
combined by a point last season (196-195)--but the fans' optimism
over the program's direction isn't unfounded. Faulk and his mates
hope to reward that passion. "They're nuts, but we love them,"
Faulk says. "I'd love to have a breakthrough season to give them
a lot more to cheer for."

--Pete McEntegart

COLOR PHOTO: JERRY WARD With James (11), Faulk and end Kenderick Allen (54) stuffing opponents, LSU usually wins the close ones.


2000 record: 8-4 (5-3, 2nd SEC West)
Final ranking: No. 22 AP


Difference in points per game scored at home (34.7) and away
(12.3) by LSU in 2000.

An opposing team's coach sizes up the Tigers

"The big question is Rohan Davey as a starting quarterback. He
pitched well in relief last year, coming off the bench to bring
his team back in the second half against Georgia Tech. He has a
cannon for an arm, but he has been overweight and prone to
injuries. He needs to get them out of bad plays at the line....
[Linebacker] Treverance Faulk seems smart and has size and
speed. LSU takes advantage of his athleticism and uses him well
in man-to-man coverage."

Strength: 41st of 117

Sept. 1 TULANE
29 at Tennessee
13 at Kentucky
20 at Mississippi State
Nov. 3 at Alabama