1) How much does not playing the McNeese State game hurt LSU? Will this being only the second game of the season have any big effect on the way the team plays?
I was a little worried about things last week, but I think having to ratchet things up for a conference game with State was more than enough warm up. I don't know that LSU's passing game is fully matured yet, but it's off to a good start. The yardage total last week wasn't very indicative of how Brandon Harris played.
2) By now we all know Rudy Ford made a comment about defending Leonard Fournette. What stock do you place in "bulletin board material"?
I'd like to put very little stock in it, but the truth is, players do use stuff like this. I think the idea that Leonard Fournette is going to run extra hard at Rudy Ford now is kind of silly, but we see too many athletes at multiple levels use things like this to dial up some extra focus. Hell, a few years ago Urban Meyer posted FAKE QUOTES in the Florida locker room for his players before playing LSU. To me that sounds stupid, but it's the world we live in.
3) Do you think Brandon Harris will be called upon to throw the ball more in this game than he was against Mississippi State? Also, do you think LSU will run the zone read, given that seems to be a big weakness for Auburn right now? And how effective a runner is Brandon Harris?
Almost definitely. Harris managed the offense very well, and likely checked out of a few runs (and had a couple of scrambles on some pass attempts -- his total was closer to 17 or 18), plus Auburn looks pretty vulnerable at cornerback. I mean the best player on the team is still No. 7 though.
On the zone-read, Harris had two very nice keepers on it last week, and a number of other runs where it looks like he had the option to keep but didn't (11 total zone-read plays by ESPN's count). I would expect to see some, although I don't think LSU wants to run Harris a ton.
4) How does LSU's defense look after defending Dak Prescott and MSU in their only real game of the season? What type of feel for first year coordinator Kevin Steele do you have?
The early returns are very solid. Steele and Ed Orgeron have brought a more aggressive style and it got after Prescott all night. He did a good job of adjusting and made some hay in the second half, but Steele kind of got back in his groove on the final drive. Honestly, I think it comes from having the personnel LSU has right now as much as anything, with an experienced secondary, great defensive tackles and a fantastic middle linebacker.
5) Thoughts on how the game plays out? Close, blow out, etc?
I think LSU has the edge, and it wouldn't surprise me if it gets ugly. The big key will be for one team to get ahead early. If Auburn is forced to wing it around to come back, Johnson will make some mistakes. And by the same token LSU doesn't want to put that burden on Harris now either. In the end LSU's running game is too strong, and Harris will make a couple of plays to keep Auburn at arm's length.