LSU Football Three Keys: Vanderbilt


LSU faces Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville. Here are your three keys to a LSU win over Vanderbilt.

By Matt Zemek

The LSU Tigers had a victory hangover last week against Northwestern State. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, or as a source of alarm. The Tigers pulled away in the second half for an easy victory, but it is completely normal to play a sleepy first half of football the week after an important and physically draining victory played in very uncomfortable weather conditions against an elite opponent, the Texas Longhorns.

Everything will be fine in LSU’s world as long as it gets back on track this week against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Here is what the Tigers need to focus on in Nashville:

Key 1 – Wakey, Wakey!

LSU played like a drunken sailor in the first 20 minutes against Northwestern State… and that’s normal for college athletes to do. LSU wisely scheduled an FCS team the week after the Texas game. Not every week after a huge game can be a rest week with an open date. Sometimes, a huge game has to be followed by another game, and it is important to give the players space in which to mentally decompress. No one should be worried about those first 20 minutes.

The caveat: If LSU plays another sleepy first 20 minutes against Vanderbilt in what is an 11 a.m. local time kickoff, it might be time to become at least moderately concerned.

LSU had its downshift week against Northwestern State. Now comes SEC play. No more snoozing. Wake up early, hit the field prepared and energized, and blitz the Commodores in the first quarter. Get back to business. Get back to being the SEC and national title contender the Tigers looked like in their win over Texas. Everything else on Saturday flows from this point of emphasis.

Key 2 – Take away the run

Vanderbilt’s running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is an excellent player. If LSU takes him away, the Commodores probably won’t have a leg to stand on as they try to solve the Tigers’ defense. LSU has elite athletes in its secondary. Texas had playmakers who could hold their own (not all the time, but some of the time) against LSU’s defensive backs. Not many other teams have receivers who can go up against LSU’s corners and prevail a reasonable percentage of the time. Against most opponents, taking away the run will enable LSU to pounce on vulnerable offenses in must-pass situations. That certainly applies here against Vanderbilt.

Key 3 – Thinking beyond the victory

Any good team’s first priority is to win, but part of navigating a full season successfully is usually enhanced by taking care of lower-stress games with fewer headaches and complications. LSU doesn’t need to go fast-tempo in this game. It shouldn’t have to throw the ball as much as it did versus Texas.

Show less of the playbook. Run more. Shorten the game. Reduce strain on the players. Save more in the fuel tank for the bigger SEC West games down the line. Winning

efficiently is something to consider here.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
Southern Miss vs. AlabamaUSMBamaPreviewBama 49, USM 7Stats
San Jose State vs. ArkansasSan Jose StArkansasPreviewSJSU 31, Arkansas 24Stats
Tennessee vs. FloridaUT / UFFloridaPreviewUF 34, Tennessee 3Stats
Notre Dame vs. GeorgiaUNDGeorgiaPreviewUGA 23, UND 17Stats
Cal vs. Ole MissCalOle MissPreviewCal 28, OM 20Stats
Kentucky vs. Mississippi StateMSUUK / MSUPreviewMSU 28, UK 13Stats
South Carolina vs. MissouriUSC / MizzouUSC / MizzouPreviewMizzou 34, USC 14Stats
Auburn vs. Texas A&MAuburn / A&MAuburn / A&MPreviewAuburn 28, TAMU 20Stats
LSU vs. VanderbiltLSU / VandyLSU / VandyPreviewLSU 66, Vandy 38Stats
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