I mean be honest, do expect a team that lost what LSU lost on defense to be able to contend for a National Title, I don't.
Sure, why not? Replacing the line will be difficult, but not impossible. Sam and Barkevious weren't THAT productive, despite their talent. And given LSU's rotation, all of the replacements have seen significant action. Simon's no great loss in the secondary, nor is Reid, given the way he played last season.
Minter is the irreplaceable player, but we do return two starters at LB plus loads of guys who didn't start but played a lot (Deon, Kwon, etc). LSU returns 4 starters on defense and 9 on offense.
Yes, they lost a lot of juniors, but LSU didn't lose many seniors. And the team was among the NCAA leaders in underclassmen playing time. And among the 11 underclassmen lost are two backup running backs, a disappointing corner, a punter, and two guys who didn't play a down last season. It's not this death blow people are saying.
Yeah, I wished we had Bama's cake schedule. But I wish we had their cake schedule in 2011 and we won the SEC and in 2012 and we were literally one play from winning the west.