LSU Tigers: Byron Jerideau

Battered Tigers face biggest challenge

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
8:17
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's almost the perfect storm of problems for LSU's offense this week.

Already, the Tigers are lacking offensive confidence after getting held to 200 yards by Florida in last week's 14-6 loss. Now, the Tigers' struggling offensive line may head into its next game without right guard Josh Williford, who suffered a head injury against the Gators was had not been cleared to play as of Wednesday. If he can't go, Trai Turner would start and give LSU an all-freshman right side of the line.

[+] EnlargeAlex Hurst
John Korduner/Icon SMILeft tackle Alex Hurst has joined the wounded along the LSU offensive line, as Les Miles said he was "nicked" against Florida.
As if that's not enough, Tigers coach Les Miles added Wednesday that left tackle Alex Hurst is dealing with an injury and has also missed practice time for personal reasons. If he can't go, Josh Dworaczyk would start at left tackle.

If either miss the Tigers' next game, No. 9 LSU (5-1, 1-1 in the SEC) will start its fifth offensive line combination in seven games. The Tigers' offensive front is, at best, makeshift.

And who does this patchwork bunch get to try to block this week?

No. 3 South Carolina and perhaps the best defensive line -- save, arguably, LSU's -- in the country. The 6-0 Gamecocks lead the SEC in sacks with 25 and are coming off a breakout performance in a 35-7 win over Georgia.

"We're going to have to work our best as a unit," said LSU left guard La'el Collins, the one offensive lineman who has started every game at one position. "Our goal is going to be to protect ... and protect."

Three things to watch

1. Mismatch? While LSU's defensive line is arguably as good as South Carolina's, the Gamecocks' defensive front appears to have a bigger mismatch against LSU's M.A.S.H. unit of an offensive line. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is perhaps the best pass rusher in the country. Does LSU have anybody who can block him and his teammates?

2. Home field mystique: LSU has won a school-record 21 straight games at Tiger Stadium, the longest current home winning streak in the country, and the Tigers are historically at their best at night. South Carolina has struggled on the road this year, barely getting by Vanderbilt, 17-13 and trailing by 10 points at halftime before subduing Kentucky, 38-17 in Lexington. Can the Death Valley mystique be a factor?

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