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Slow Week Here at ATVS; Fast Week in the Life of Mr. Pittman

Metro Councilman Ulysses "Bones" Addison said the games will likely mean "total chaos" for the parish, not only because of the debris but also because of the widespread power outages and the fact that more than 100 traffic signals still aren’t functioning.

Link here.

With many of my regular readers still without power, and with no game last week to talk about, and only a mismatch this week to preview, the blog has been more of a chore and less of a hobby this week than usual.  Not to mention, it has been one of those weeks at work.  A week where you go at full speed and still can't seem to get everything done you hoped to get done during the day. 

In other words, I can really use a weekend.  Thankfully, I get one.  I even get to watch a game.  I also get to do other stuff.

Next weekend, the weekend of the Auburn game, is our wedding anniversary. Yes, I got married on a game week.  Auburn 2004 in fact.  The ceremony was long over by the time the game started.  What?  Shut up!  

Anyway, I have to make sure Mrs. ATVS has a nice anniversary gift, and I have to make sure I'm not too big a jerk this coming week.

But you're not here to read about my personal life.  You want to know about the game coming up this week.  Well, it promises not to give us much drama, but there are some storylines to consider.


Phelon Jones may look 30, but he's probably more like 19.

Our starting nickel back (god damn I hate that band!), Danny McCray (who I'm guessing is not a fan either), appears to be out with an injury.  His backup at the nickel is not Patrick Peterson or starting dime back Chad Jones.  It's redshirt freshman corner Phelon Jones.

LSU's tremendous depth in the secondary allows us to do things that a lot of teams cannot do.  Most teams, if they were to, say, lose a starting cornerback, would slide the nickel over to corner, because the nickel is the 5th best defensive back on the team.  Most teams would have to shuffle their lineup around and put a lot of players out of position to avoid having to put someone in who can't play.  In our case, nickel and dime positions have their own separate depth charts, and we don't have to fit a square peg into a round hole when there's an injury.

Case in point, the BCSNCG last year.  Starting strong safety Craig Steltz got hurt.  Our nickel was a safety, again Danny McCray, and our dime was a safety (Chad Jones).  Most teams would have had to move McCray or Jones into the strong safety position, where they had played little and where they had not practiced much.  Most teams would then have to find a new nickel or dime back as well, and the drop-off in skill would be tremendous, plus you'd have two players playing outside of their usual position.

Instead of sliding McCray or Jones into Steltz's slot, we kept McCray and Steltz in the same positions they were in, and moved little-used backup Harry Coleman into the strong safety slot previously occupied by Steltz.  None of the DB regulars were asked to play out of position or to take on new responsibilities.  We could get away with it because we have guys on the bench who can really play.  If the drop-off between Steltz and Coleman had been precipitous to the point where we couldn't trust Coleman to be on the field every snap, we would not have had the luxury of keeping McCray and/or Jones in their usual positions.  It worked out great for us, because of our depth.

Well, now we have an injury to the nickel back (arrrrgggghh!), and instead of sliding Chad Jones up or Patrick Peterson over from corner, we have a dedicated backup nickel who can play well and who can be trusted, and no one has to play out of position just to avoid putting a weak player on the field.

I for one am looking forward to seeing Phelon play.  He was one of my favorite recruits from the 2007 signing class.  He has a very bright future, even if the defensive backfield is crowded for the next few years.  This will be his first significant action, even though he got into the App St. game.  He should be on the field 75% of the plays, because North Texas runs a spread that requires us to put the nickel in most of the time.

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The other story line to watch is going to be the distribution of carries between the running backs.  Thanks to new clock rules, there are likely to be fewer offensive plays, and two week ago Richard Murphy did not get many touches.  Keiland Williams got touches, but didn't make the most of them.  Charles Scott got the bulk of the carries and was very productive.

There's been buzz about Murphy breaking out since the end of his true freshman year.  If he's going to break out and be a special back, the next two weeks are a really good time to start.