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LSU vs Vanderbilt: What to Watch for

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Please, it’s Vanderbilt, let’s make this comfortable.

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Saturday is the first opportunity for the LSU football team to put their recent humiliation behind them, so this is a far bigger game than we all expected when the schedule came out. That said, yes, this is a big one, and it is important for LSU to stop the bleeding and win fairly comfortably.

Vanderbilt seems like a great opportunity to do that, but they took Texas A&M to the mat last weekend. Offensively, they looked downright awful, but there are reasons to be concerned about their defense, especially considering how poorly LSU protected the passer against Mississippi State. They employ a potentially dangerous pass rush, led by Dayo Odeyingbo and Andre Mintz.

Offensively, there isn’t a lot there; expect a lot of wide, outside, and inside zone in the run game. Despite a mediocre stat line and acclaim from coaches/media, true freshman QB Ken Seals looked flat out awful against Texas A&M, and it was clear the coaching staff didn’t really trust him to read anything more than a text message on Saturday. They moved the pocket around, and utilized a lot of play action dump-offs off of their outside zone schemes, as well as RPOs and quick concepts. He threw two interceptions (from clean pockets I might add) in which he just flat out ignored safeties that were in passing windows.

What To Watch For


For Vanderbilt

Tackling

It would have been difficult for Vandy to do a worse job tackling than they did on Saturday. It’s really simple, they missed guys in space, got their ankles broken, took bad angles, and just got muscled through by guys. Considering how poorly they tackled, they are very lucky Texas A&M didn’t ring up 50 on them. It helped that Kellen Mond was really bad, the A&M receivers didn’t generate a ton of separation, nor were they schemed open. LSU’s system is better, and its skill players are frankly better (Terrace Marshall for instance). If they want to win, or even come close, they better tackle.

Ken Seals’ processing

It’s unspeakably difficult to be a true freshman quarterback and start this year, especially early. You have had limited on field reps to actually adjust to the speed of the collegiate game, and you’re getting thrown right into the fire with an all-conference schedule. Also you play for Vanderbilt, so basically everyone you’ll play is more talented than your surrounding cast. Seals looked like a freshman last Saturday, locking onto options, throwing into traffic, and failing to get through progressions. He is facing a very talented defense on Saturday, one that should have Derek Stingley Jr. back to take away his best receiver (the big Amir Abdur-Rahman). This will be a hell of a challenge for Seals, even though LSU just got nuked by KJ Costello.

Edge Rushers

I am VERY nervous about their pair of edge defenders. Dayo Odeyingbo is massive and athletic, and can be a handful for Austin Deculus on Saturday. He was extremely disruptive both rushing the passer and blowing up gaps against Texas A&M, and he makes me uncomfortable going into this week. On his other side is somebody that makes me as or more uncomfortable. Andre Mintz is strong, fast, and technically proficient. He is a tough matchup for a tackle, and given that Dare Rosenthal may sit with injury, I’m very worried about that matchup. If anybody is gonna drag this game into the mud and make it close, it will be those two.

Stat Leader Predictions for Vanderbilt:

Passing: Seals, 13/27, 145, 1 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: Wakefield, 18 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD

Receiving: Bresnahan, 4 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD


For LSU

The Merciful Return of Derek Stingley

LSU needs Stingley back in the worst possible way. No, he can’t cover everyone, and the performance against Miss State would still have been bad with him, but having a guy who can just erase the players he lines up against (except Devonta Smith, who is awesome) is a gigantic luxury. Stingley is a difference maker, and thankfully he will return on Saturday.

Pass Protection

This is one I am officially CONCERNED about going into Saturday. LSU will probably not have starting left tackle Dare Rosenthal on Saturday, and they are facing what is a very effective pass rush. Even with Rosenthal, they struggled mightily to protect Brennan, who, at least right now, exacerbates the problem with his own reticence and relative immobility.

Bo Pelini’s Defensive Schemes again.

Dude, that better never happen again. Honestly I just want to see what coverages LSU actually has installed at this point, considering Bo Pelini’s unwillingness to adjust, I want to see what they actually have.

Stat Leader Predictions for LSU:

Passing: Brennan, 22/35, 284, 3 TD, 1 INT.

Rushing: Curry, 14 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD

Receiving: Marshall, 9 catches, 128 yards, 2 TD.