LSU hosts Utah State on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Here are your three keys to an LSU win over Utah State.
By Matt Zemek
The LSU Tigers badly needed a week off. K’Lavon Chaisson and Rashard Lawrence needed to heal, and Michael Divinity joined the ranks of the wounded against Vanderbilt. LSU has begun to pick up a lot of attritional subtractions, turning this defense into a much thinner and more vulnerable unit. Vanderbilt scored 38 points on the Tigers in Week 4.
LSU plays Utah State late Saturday morning in Tiger Stadium. The late-morning kickoff is not when LSU fans prefer to watch a game, but the purpose of the time slot is clear enough: Give LSU as much turnaround time for the Week 7 Florida game as is humanly possible.
Let’s look at what LSU needs to do on Saturday:
Key 1 – Crush the first quarter… and the Aggies
LSU’s ideal scenario in this game is to blow out Utah State before anyone’s seat gets too warm. Annihilate the Aggies in the first quarter so that the rest of the day won’t be stressful. LSU has drifted through first quarters in the weeks since the Texas game. Putting together a 21-0 first quarter would give Ed Orgeron the ability to give his starters more rest a week before the Florida clash. It would enable him to rotate bodies on defense and see more of what the second-string players can do. Orgeron needs to be able to give second-stringers a decent test drive in this game before the meat of the SEC gauntlet arrives. A strong first quarter makes a more exploratory rotation of players a greater likelihood.
Key 2 – Make Utah State earn everything
The LSU modus operandi on defense has changed due to all the injuries. The Tigers cannot realistically expect to dominate a full game. They are too thin right now, and Orgeron isn’t convinced that his best injured players are going to be 100 percent for this game. There is no sense playing them if they aren’t fully healthy. Having them ready for Florida is the priority.
LSU’s goal on defense – at least for this week – is to make sure Utah State doesn’t hit 80-yard touchdown passes. The Tigers got smoked for 38 points by a not-that-good Vanderbilt offense, a sign of how much attrition is affecting them. LSU needs to make Utah State inch the ball down the field in small amounts of yards. LSU is going to allow yards. The Tigers need to accept that. The key is to become a great red-zone defense and force a lot of field goals.
Field goals aren’t going to beat this LSU offense.
Key 3 – Avoiding hits
Before the SEC schedule ramps up, Joe Burrow needs to be cognizant of the importance of avoiding hits. Yes, he probably already knows this, but against a lesser opponent, it is easy to think that one can stand in the pocket forever. No – Burrow has to remain vigilant enough to not take any more hits than necessary. He doesn’t have to be a hero in this game. He needs to not dive for first downs. His teammates can help him out.
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
|Game||First Looks||3 Keys|
|Auburn vs. Florida||Florida / Auburn||Florida / Auburn||Preview||Florida 24, Auburn 14||Stats|
|Utah State vs. LSU||Utah St.||LSU||Preview||LSU 42, Utah St. 6||Stats|
|Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss||Ole Miss / Vandy||Ole Miss / Vandy||Preview||Ole Miss 31, Vandy 6||Stats|
|Troy vs. Missouri||Troy>||Mizzou||Preview||Mizzou 42, Troy 10||Stats|
|Georgia vs. Tennessee||Georgia / Tennessee||Tennessee / Georgia||Preview||Georgia 43, Tennessee 14||Stats|