Commentary

For West Virginia, a passing strategy

LSU's D has been dominant this season, but there's still hope for the Mountaineers

Updated: September 21, 2011, 6:08 PM ET
By Teddy Mitrosilis | ESPN Insider
Geno SmithChris Graythen/Getty ImagesGeno Smith will go up against a ferocious LSU defense on Saturday night.

When West Virginia Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen was asked to identify a potential weakness in the LSU Tigers' defense, familiar words echoed through the phone in a baritone.

"There isn't one," Holgorsen said. "That defense is the best I've seen on tape."

Whether or not Holgorsen intended to publicly wax poetic about the nation's No. 2 team days before his No. 16 Mountaineers are set to play it, his comments follow along nicely with the national narrative. These Tigers have the best defense in the land, an impeccable force that can be slowed by a quick slant or a well-executed screen but never actually beaten. That's the story.

And let's be clear: LSU is deserving of the praise following its performances against the Oregon Ducks and Mississippi State Bulldogs this season. That doesn't mean, however, that it's impossible to move the ball on the Tigers, as a deeper look at the team's early-season numbers shows.

The sample is small, but because LSU has actually played good teams and been in close games, we can draw more from the data. (Early-season romps over bad teams explain little.) So far, you can't run on the Tigers, but there's evidence you can throw. It's something West Virginia should try. Here's why: