Your weekly rundown of what to look for when you watch LSU take on ULL on Saturday night.
What You Should Expect to See on Saturday:
Block it like it' Hot
There's a lot of talk about the offense opening up, particularly with the vertical passing attack, but expect the offensive line and running game to take precedent this week. The ingredients are there for the passing attack - a quarterback who (thus far) has shown the ability to throw for touch with speedy receivers who can make plays down the field. But right now there's a real question as to whether this LSU offensive line can blow opponents off the ball when the Tigers need a yard.
The lateral running game - zone stretches and option runs - have worked really well so far, but the power game has been virtually non-existent. LSU will need that versatility down the stretch against the faster defenses of the conference. Fullback's been a problem as well, as Richard Dugas just hasn't gotten the job done as a lead blocker. Using Charles Scott there is an excellent change-up from a versatility standpoint, but it's doubtful we're going to want him iso-blocking in the fourth quarter of a tight game.
Besides, the way the unit pass-blocked against Vandy, Jordan Jefferson won't have much time to throw deep against Florida, Alabama or Ole Miss. So those waiting to see the offense rain fire on opposing secondaries may have to wait a little while longer.
On the other side, ULL actually returns a pretty strong, veteran group of linemen themselves with LT Kyle Pirtle, LG Brad Bustle, C Chris Fisher, RG Ian Burks and RT Jonathan Decoster. Fisher's even considered a draftable prospect. How they match up with LSU's defensive line, which did a pretty strong job of submarine-ing Vandy's front last week, will be worth watching.
Slow ‘n Steady
Kansas State was able to rush for 196 yards and hold the ball for 36:31 in last week's loss to the Cajuns - so don't be surprised if LSU's drives are slow and deliberate, trying to bleed the ULL front-seven to set up some play-action passing.
Do NOT Expect:
One tends to rise to the level of their incompetence, and a good test of ULL QB Chris Masson's mental faculties will be just how much he tests Patrick Peterson. Last week, Peterson didn't accumulate a single defensive statistic against Vanderbilt - because the Commodores didn't put the football anywhere near him. His man wasn't thrown at once, and most of Vandy's running plays tried to avoid LSU's stud corner.
The Cajuns' spread offense appears to have shifted from the Michael Desormeaux/Tyrell Fenroy run-based days to more of a pass-focused attack. Will LSU be content to play zone and force Masson to dink and dunk his way down the field, or will they man up and force the ULL receivers to beat LSU's corners? Last week John Chavis ran a lot of base Cover-1-robber in the secondary - man coverage at the corners with one safety playing deep and one roaming the middle of the field looking to jump (or "rob") crossing routes. It was one of his favorite coverages at Tennessee, with strong safeties like Eric Berry, Jason Allen and Gibril Wilson excelling at the robber position. Brandon Taylor had a few good plays, including an athletic interception, but he has to learn to be more aggressive, hugging close to receivers and jumping those routes. That can come with time and experience.
40 Ounces to Freedom
When LSU fans have made scoring predictions on this game the number usually starts at 40, and understandably so, but there seems to be this notion that anything less is somehow some tremendous failure, which is laughable. Admittedly, if LSU has trouble scoring, that's absolutely an indication that this offense is in for a bumpy road in these next 9 games. But remember, in the second half, if LSU is nursing a nice lead and suddenly the offense seems to start to bog down, it's probably by design. Les Miles has never been in the business of embarrassing opponents (unless they're coached by Paul Johnson), and he's not about to start now just to reach some arbitrary scoring figure. If LSU is up something like 35-7 (or more), don't expect to see a lot of deep passes or big-play calls.