We’ve got LSU coming up on Saturday at 2:30 PM at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. LSU’s had an interesting season so far, what with losing to Troy and then taking down Florida last weekend in Gainesville. Each game seems like it’s been a completely different story, and so we’ve invited And the Valley Shook’s Billy Gomila (@ATVS_ChefBilly) to come and tell us about the Bayou Bengals.
I saw differing opinions in the offseason on the full-time hiring of Coach O. What was your opinion when the decision was made and has it been validated?
I was largely in favor of it. I enjoyed the job he did as an interim, and kind of wondered if USC had screwed up in passing on him themselves. I do think his general approach -- recruit like mad, hire and maintain a top-shelf staff -- is the one that works at LSU, and I generally don't tend to get wrapped up in the hot coach of the moment, especially with short-term track records.
I didn't come into this season with huge expectations, but with that in mind obviously, things haven't gone as well as I'd like. It's one thing to lose to State, and it's another to lose by 30. Likewise, there's no excuse for losing to Troy, period. But I'm not one to push the panic button quickly, and I'm not yet. If anything, I'm more worried about what will happen if those in power do, because I don't generally have a high opinion of the power-brokers at the head of LSU right now, and the state politics behind that. But last week was a nice, if ugly win, and given the way the rest of the league has looked, there's still a lot to build on moving forward.
Obviously, LSU's one of the most talented teams in the country, and bringing in a guy like Matt Canada only appeared as if it would help greatly. How's the implementation of his offense gone in, and what different types of things can we expect to see Saturday?
Coming into this season, we knew depth was a concern for the offensive line, and then it took a big hit with some early attrition. And I think that's really held this unit back -- LSU just can't run the football as consistently as we need. Likewise, Derrius Guice has remained gimpy as well. So the truth is, we probably haven't seen this offense reach it's full implementation yet. LSU will almost definitely play, maybe even start, three freshmen on that front on Saturday. I do think we'll see the shifts and motions that were very effective against Florida -- and I think they can cause some problems for a Kevin Steele defense. What remains to be seen is if LSU can just get any push at all.
Can you give us a little information on the skill players we'll see on offense? Derrius Guice hasn't had the breakout type of year we all expected, averaging just 4.4 ypc, but who does Danny Etling have around him?
Guice has battled a nagging injury all year, and in his stead, senior Darrel Williams has had some nice moments. He's much more of a pure power back. At receiver, DJ Chark really has done everything he can to be a true No. 1 guy, and Russell Gage showed some nice wheels last week. Watch for tight end Foster Moreau, who seems to be emerging as a security blanket type.
Let's get right down to it, what did Troy do to upset LSU? What didn't LSU do to avoid the upset?
Well, LSU turned the ball over five times -- six, when you count a missed chip-shot field goal. That alone sets the stage. On top of that, I think this team has really struggled with adversity to date. When something goes wrong (and LSU fumbled on the first play from scrimmage), this team has gone into a shell at times. Whether or not that could happen again this week is something to consider.
What would you do to attack LSU on both sides of the ball?
On defense, bring pressure and run lots of stunts and movements with your defensive line. This front has struggled with assignments, and Danny Etling can get rattled if he gets knocked around. He's a tough, competitive kid but his accuracy really struggles under duress. On offense, I would try to strike quickly, and then just wear this front out on the ground. LSU has some talent in this front but most of it is very young, or less than healthy.
What's your prediction for Saturday?
LSU can play their best game, and if Auburn matches that I think the visiting team wins. If y'all gift us a few turnovers, well, then things may get interesting. But I would expect this to be something of an ugly game, possibly low-scoring. If either team gets out in front early on, then we may see it get interesting.