Thursday, November 21, 2013
Planning for success: LSU
By Greg Ostendorf
There's a looming question going into Saturday’s Texas A&M-LSU game: how many points will the teams combine to score? Nobody has been able to stop quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Aggies this season, but LSU has the offense to stay right with them. It could easily turn into another shootout, something the SEC has grown accustomed to this year.
But not everybody wants to see that.
Les Miles' LSU defense is one of only two teams to hold QB Johnny Manziel and the Aggies under 20 points the last two seasons.
“Yeah, I’m not looking forward to that style of game,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I want the defense to stop them. Certainly, we recognize the challenge that an offense like A&M would bring, and it would require us at times to match, but I like my defense. I suspect they’ll play best in this game.”
The Tigers were one of just two teams to hold Texas A&M to under 20 points last season, but the majority of that defense is gone. It’s up to a younger, more inexperienced group to try to slow down Manziel.
What LSU needs to do to win: The key to beating Manziel this season has been to force turnovers. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was great against both Alabama and Auburn, but he threw two interceptions in each game and that’s all it took. Texas A&M is coming off a 51-41 win over Mississippi State, but it was a game in which Manziel threw three more picks. Regardless of how many interceptions, if any, he throws, LSU will have to keep up offensively. That puts a lot of responsibility on quarterback Zach Mettenberger and this offense, but they certainly don’t lack the firepower. While it will be important to control the clock, the Tigers would love to hit a couple home runs Saturday.
Players to watch
RB Jeremy Hill: Coming off his worst performance of the season against Alabama, expect Hill to have a big game on Saturday. He’ll be more determined than ever, and he should be able to find plenty of running room against a porous Aggies defense.
CB Jalen Mills: It’s a safe bet that Mills will draw the assignment of trying to cover Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. It’s no easy task, but he at least has the size (6-1, 189) to hold his own. Defensive coordinator John Chavis might also ask Mills to blitz some off the edge.
Quotable “I spent [Saturday] morning at the office working and spent the afternoon watching college football. What an amazing array of games and different styles. If there’s anything better than college football, I just haven’t found it.” -- Miles on how he spent his bye week