What To Watch For on Saturday
Get Back on the Horse
This game is what it is. A filler homecoming game against an FCS opponent in week nine. The Tigers more or less are what they are by now. There will be some conclusions to draw, but some might not visible until there's some distance.
Last year, LSU followed up a pretty rough road game (albeit in a victory) versus Auburn with a home game with Towson, and proceeded to dick around for three quarters before pulling away, 38-22. That team's inability to bring a consistent intensity level was later proven in the season's final month. Until last weekend, the 2013 Tigers had shown a relatively consistent effort level. If they get back to that this week, that's something positive for the final three games. Doesn't mean they won't drop another game, but it's still something we can feel good about.
All it means is just getting back to what we saw for the first few weeks. Wolf down this cupcake quickly and efficiently. Exert will, blow the Paladins off the ball, score points and maintain game intensity from minutes one through 60. Forty-seven and a half points is a huge number, but I'd feel pretty damn good if the offense can at least get close to that number before putting in the backups. If the band is starting the fourth quarter salute and this game is still nip-and-tuck, I'm not going to be a happy blogger.
Run the football, pass it efficiently and create big plays. On offense, I don't know that there needs to be much more said.
Defense is really the area where I don't know that there will be all that much to judge -- at least if anything good happens. I mean yeah, it's great if LSU holds this offense under 200 yards and pitches a shutout. But I don't know what it'll really mean much going forward for this unit. I'll be watching for the intangibles like tackling, intensity and gap discipline. And probably more so than the yardage stats, I'll be watching for big plays like tackles for loss, sacks and turnovers. I can maybe live with a little more yards and points if the Tigers can nail the quarterback a couple times and pick him off. Particularly from the younger guys.
Speaking of which, look to see a plenty of snaps for almost every non-redshirting freshman. Tashawn Bower, Kendell Beckwith, Rashard Robinson, Christian LaCouture, Ethan Pocic, Melvin Jones and maybe even Rickey Jefferson, if Les Miles is to be believed.
There's going to be a huge outpouring of calls for Anthony Jennings (there already has been this week on message boards/the radio -- some have even suggested he should start). Personally, I'm of the opinion that Zach Mettenberger and the starting receivers need a bit more of a palate cleanser after last week. Yeah, I want Jennings to see some non-handoff action, but I'm not going to be terribly upset if it doesn't come until the final 15 minutes. I'd much rather see the No. 1 offense do its job in rhythm and hit the bye week on a high note. Obviously, balance that needs against fatigue and injury concerns, but I'm still more interested in the guys that will be starting versus Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas shaking off last week and returning to form than I am the backups getting garbage-time reps.
If there's an area to save wear-and-tear, I use it on Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard, who will need fresh legs in November.
So anybody want to set the over/under on the crowd for this one? I'm going to go conservative with 60K.
Don't get me wrong, I understand. Going to LSU games can take a lot out of you with all that tailgating can involve, both financially and in terms of physical resources. I get the anger over parking fees and traffic before and after the game. But, the reality is you only get so many of these games a year, and in this current climate, even fewer of those are going to be a guaranteed night game. I mean it IS homecoming. It's also a lighter game for a young family to come to, without the pressure and...anger...for those of you that don't want to expose young kids to fan RAEG.
So come out. Be loud. Make Tiger Stadium the venue Furman is expecting (or even hoping to see). A big reason that we talked so much about purging and flushing and moving beyond the Ole Miss loss is that all of this is supposed to be fun. Come out, have fun, and don't let the angry side of this equation win the day.