The LSU Tigers continue to answer every tough question thrown their way. This isn’t a perfect team due to its defensive injuries and the limitations involved on that side of the ball. However, it is magical to see LSU owning what is legitimately the best offense in the country. Joe Burrow looks like the Heisman Trophy leader, at least until Nov. 2 when the Tigers face Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama in what is shaping up to be the SEC and national game of the regular season.
By Matt Zemek
One more thing about that Alabama game: It will mean a lot less if LSU doesn’t first tend to business against Mississippi State on CBS. It is so easy to look ahead. LSU must first keep its eye on the ball.
Let’s not waste time getting to the first of our three keys, then:
1 – Focus
It isn’t a hard concept to understand, and it isn’t an original observation, but it is the most relevant one for Saturday’s game. LSU can’t look ahead to Alabama. It has to take this business trip to Starkville quite seriously. We know Mississippi State looks very toothless at the moment, but college football history is loaded with examples of elite teams treating weak teams very casually and either losing or coming very close to falling off the ledge.
If LSU takes this game seriously, it will be fine. That is the cornerstone truth attached to this game. All the rest is relatively peripheral.
2 – Ground game
LSU would like to win this game in a specific way: with Joe Burrow not taking any hits before the Alabama game, and with the roster at large being subjected to fewer risks of injury before the Alabama game. This means LSU would like to win a shorter game with fewer plays. This translates to a game in which LSU can cram the ball down Mississippi State’s throat. This translates to a game in which LSU doesn’t have to use the most daring plays in its playbook and can save them for the Crimson Tide.
LSU can use a more minimalist form of victory against Mississippi State. It can use a game with less stress and strain on players. Pounding the ball between the tackles is the foremost point of emphasis in the attempt to achieve that goal.
3 – Defending the field between the hash marks
Kyle Pitts, Florida’s tight end, got open a lot on seam routes in the middle third of the field against LSU. With Alabama just around the bend, the Tigers’ back seven has a lot of work to do in covering real estate and accounting for an opponent’s array of passing game weapons. No, Mississippi State does not have an elite passing attack, but LSU needs to work out some of the kinks in the back lines of its defense and show that it can play better assignment football in coverage against opponents who will try to spread out the Tigers.