LSU's potential under Mettenberger

The Tigers look poised to air things out under new starting QB Zach Mettenberger. Cal Sport Media via AP Images

There are many lessons the LSU Tigers could take away from the 2011 season, but the one that stands out the most is that a great defense can only go so far in masking the limitations of a mediocre offense.

For most of the past year the Tigers were able to overcome the weakness that comes with an offense that generated only 5.71 yards per play (ranked 50th in the FBS, courtesy of CFBStats.com), but that flaw finally cost them in the BCS title game rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Nick Saban's squad was known for its defensive prowess, but its 6.46 yards per offensive play mark ranked tied for 12th in the FBS, and proved to be the difference in the championship tilt.

It might seem at first glance that LSU will be hard-pressed to close the offensive production gap since it lost five starters on that side of the ball, including its starting quarterbacks (Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson) and best wide receiver (Rueben Randle).

Randle's loss is especially damaging, as his dominant 2011 performance was a big part of why he ended up ranking second in my recent analysis of wide receiver prospects in the 2012 NFL draft.

Daunting as the task initially looks, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that the Tigers have the potential to field the SEC's best offense in 2012.