LSU Tigers: Eddie Jackson



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- So much about LSU-Alabama is built around the physical style of play, and rightfully so. UA coach Nick Saban called the game a "heavyweight fight" where you have to show up in every round. His veteran defensive end, Jeoffrey Pagan, said it was a "dog fight" he looks forward to every season.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsWith a powerful run game, plus Jarvis Landry (pictured) and Odell Beckham Jr. stretching the secondary, LSU's offense presents a bigger challenge to Alabama's depleted secondary.
But it won't be all smash-mouth football when the two teams meet in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if LSU coach Les Miles puts the ball in the air against the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

And given the Alabama's depth concerns in the secondary, why not? Eight different players have started there and two key pieces at safety -- Vinnie Sunseri and Nick Perry -- are out for the season with injuries. Deion Belue has been consistent, but who plays opposite him at corner hasn't been. John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Eddie Jackson and Bradley Sylve have all tried their hands there and none have risen to the top of the pile. It's unclear who among them will start against LSU.

"We like the matchup," Miles said of getting the ball to his two star receivers, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who rank in the top 10 of the SEC in receiving yards and have combined for 16 touchdown catches. "We think that we kind of give them some challenges on the perimeter. We got a quarterback, first of all, that can make the throw and several receivers that can get open in space.

"Again, who we're playing, they are a very good team, but we think there is a matchup there that benefits us."

LSU certainly has the pieces to hurt Alabama through the air.

Zach Mettenberger had his own personal coming out party against the Tide last season, throwing for a then-career high 298 yards in defeat. He carried that over to this year and has made the most dramatic improvement in opponent-adjusted QBR (+38.6) of any quarterback who qualified. His 85.7 opponent-adjusted QBR is seventh-best in the FBS, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

It helps that he's got two good ones to throw the football to.

"The combination of these two guys are as good a receivers as we've played against all year long," Saban said. "Not the same style as the Texas A&M guys, but very quick, very athletic. They have the speed to get on top. Very smart in terms of route runners. They do a good job of putting them in various positions that makes them difficult to cover and get the kind of matchups on that you'd like."

Beckham is as dangerous a weapon as there is in the SEC with his ability to create separation. He has premier top-end speed and the burst to make a guy miss and take it to the house. He's currently second in the country in all-purpose yards.

Landry, on the other hand, can go up and get it. He's listed as 6-foot-1, but plays much larger. He's sixth in the country in receptions (57), seventh in yards per catch (21.02) and fifth in creating first downs on a reception (40).

"They know how to run their routes, just like our receivers," UA safety Landon Collins said. "It’s hard to stick our receivers. They know how to run their routes and stick on a dime. Watching it on film, it’s going to be a pretty tough game sticking them, our safeties playing their wide receivers."

It won't help that LSU is so balanced. Alabama won't be able to help the secondary out by dropping many defenders back in coverage. There's simply no ignoring LSU's running game, headlined by Jeremy Hill, who ranks 13th nationally in rushing yards (922) and is tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (12).

Given all that, the Tide secondary knows the task that lies ahead.

"They have very good wide receivers, very good quarterback," Collins said. "And their run game is tremendous. We just have to stay settled and stay watching our keys."

SEC helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 29, 2013
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Week 5 in the SEC provided what could have been the game of the year between Georgia and LSU. The nation’s No. 1 team played up to its ranking, and there were plenty of impressive performances across the league. It’s time to hand out the helmet stickers.

Aaron Murray, QB Georgia: It wasn’t long ago when Murray was labeled the quarterback who couldn’t win the big game. It’s time to throw that away. The senior finished 20-of-34 for 298 yards and five total touchdowns in Georgia’s biggest game of the year. He has always been productive -- he could soon become the SEC’s most productive quarterback of all time -- but add the clutch factor and there’s no reason not to think he’s a top contender for the Heisman this year. The Bulldogs control their own destiny in the SEC East, and Murray and company would love nothing more than a chance to avenge last year’s loss to Alabama in the conference championship. They have to get through Florida first.

Zach Mettenberger, QB LSU: It doesn’t matter how well somebody plays, there has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. Unfortunately for Mettenberger, he finished on the losing side Saturday, but the former Georgia quarterback played admirably against his former team. He finished 23-of-37 for 372 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Down the stretch, he made clutch throw after clutch throw to keep the Tigers in the game. LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry had close to 300 yards receiving between them, but it starts with Mettenberger. He had a terrific homecoming but came up just short.

The Alabama secondary: Before the game, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said he thought they could score on anybody. Evidently not Alabama. The No. 1 team in the nation shut out the Rebels, 25-0. Wallace singled out the Crimson Tide cornerbacks, saying they weren’t exactly first-rounders, but Deion Belue and Eddie Jackson stepped up on Saturday. Jackson, a true freshman, was especially impressive locking up Wallace’s favorite target Donte Moncrief for most of the game. He also came down with the Tide’s lone interception. As a whole, the UA secondary held Ole Miss to just 159 yards through the air.

Mike Davis, RB South Carolina: At halftime, it didn’t look good for South Carolina. The Gamecocks trailed Central Florida, 10-0, and quarterback Connor Shaw was lost for the game with a shoulder injury. But Davis didn’t care. He put his team on his back and carried it to victory. It started with a 53-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the third quarter, the first points of the game for the Gamecocks. He scored twice more in the fourth quarter to extend the lead and put the game away. The sophomore back finished with 26 carries for 167 yards and three touchdowns as South Carolina survived a difficult road test.

The Texas A&M offensive line: Johnny Manziel gets most of the credit for Texas A&M’s high-powered offense, but it was the offensive line that absolutely dominated Arkansas up front on Saturday. The Aggies rushed for 262 yards against the Razorbacks, averaging six yards per carry. No one player reached 100 yards rushing, but Trey Williams and Tra Carson played well down the stretch, and starting running back Ben Malena scored twice. Manziel still finished with 261 yards and two touchdowns through the air and another 59 yards on the ground, but it all started with the offensive line.

Four-star LB Riley makes his choice 

January, 30, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The worst-kept secret in town about four-star linebacker Duke Riley became official with one, very excited tweet from Riley's"1Goal1Dream" Twitter account Wednesday night.

Mailbag: Offensive line will be strong 

January, 30, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN's Gary Laney took your questions on a SportsNation chat Tuesday, but ran out of time to get to all of them. Instead, he turned them into a mailbag:

Ricky (New Orleans): How is our offensive line shaping up, since we had problems protecting Zach Mettenberger last year and our running game was not as productive as previous years?

GL: The offensive line could be the strength of the offense next year. With so many young players getting playing time, LSU has a lot of guys coming back. There are two key areas.

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Tide or Tigers for Eddie Jackson? 

January, 29, 2013
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Four-star athlete Eddie Jackson will announce his college decision on Twitter around 8 a.m. ET Wednesday morning. The Florida native has taken official visits to Alabama, Florida State and LSU and will decide between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers.


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LSU makes pitches to recruits, waits 

January, 28, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- At the end of his weekend trip to LSU, Tashawn Bower sent a Tweet that said "1 visit to go." Duke Riley stayed in Baton Rouge an extra day. Eddie Jackson sent out an Instagram photo with a white No. 2 LSU jersey on.


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LSU looking to win prospects over 

January, 25, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With signing day looming, LSU is looking to sway some heavily recruited defensive talent this weekend as three players holding multiple SEC offers are scheduled to visit.

ESPN 150 defensive end Tashawn Bower (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata), an Auburn commit who has been taking visits to other schools, highlights a trio of uncommitted defensive players coming to Baton Rouge.


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Signing day primer: LSU 

January, 23, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With national signing day two weeks away, LSU is close to the finish line, but the Tigers still have some big names they are after:

Team needs: LSU was decimated on the defensive line by graduation and early NFL draft entrees.

The Tigers will be without six of the nine defensive linemen who played the majority of the snaps, including three potential first-round NFL draft picks, led by lightning-quick speed-rushing end Barkevious Mingo.

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SEC coach visits fast-rising Jackson 

January, 16, 2013
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Eddie Jackson (Pompana Beach, Fla./Boyd Anderson) received a welcome visit Tuesday when an SEC coach came calling.


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Under-the-radar WR set for LSU visit 

January, 15, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- A year ago, you had your list of big receivers on your LSU wish list for the 2013 class.

There were Ricky Seals-Jones, Quantavius Leslie, and any number of wideouts, 6-foot-3 and above. Any of them would fill a need for a tall receiver for the Tigers after the departure of Rueben Randle to the NFL.


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Noles pitch ATH Jackson; Bama, LSU next 

January, 13, 2013
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Highly-recruited athlete Eddie Jackson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson) was thought to be a near-lock for Florida State when the Seminoles offered two months ago. Since then, though, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound senior has received some major offers from top SEC programs.

Jackson recently was offered by Alabama and will take official visits to Alabama, LSU and Arkansas in the next three weeks, so this weekend’s official visit to Florida State was a chance for the Seminoles to get some distance between themselves and the stout competition.


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Eddie Jackson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Boyd Anderson) is the epitome of a late-bloomer, under-the-radar prospect.

A senior wide receiver/defensive back who had little film to offer because academic issues sidelined him for much of his high school career, Jackson worked to get his grades up, had a solid senior season on the field and now has a growing list of offers.

Including the latest one.


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Late bloomers looking for right fit 

December, 12, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- By now, the typical follower of recruiting knows all the 4- and 5-star recruits. Ricky Seals-Jones is a household name, as is Robert Nkemdiche.

When Seals-Jones chose Texas A&M Monday, it dominated the recruiting news cycle. When Nkemdiche makes his decision, the news will rule the day, with the image of Nkemdiche at a table wearing the cap of the winning school on his head while surrounded by family and coaches sure to be placed all over the web.

But decisions like those are only a small part of December and January recruiting. More often, the story is about the kid who comes in from off the radar, the relative unknown who is either a late bloomer or simply late in getting interest.

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