5 things I need to see from LSU against Auburn
LSU played better against South Carolina last Saturday.
Head coach Ed Orgeron said the 52-24 home victory was the 2-2 Tigers’ best performance of the season.
But LSU is still a work in progress.
It needs to keep doing the good stuff it did last week and continue to improve on the not-so-good stuff if it’s going to win at Auburn on Saturday afternoon.
If LSU can prevail, it will get above .500 for the first time this season and head into an open date with some momentum as it begins preparing for its game against No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 14.
Here are 5 things I need to see from LSU against Auburn:
1. A repeat performance by the offensive line
Orgeron said the offensive line was the MVP against South Carolina and it’s easy to agree with that assessment.
The line’s blocking allowed LSU to stay committed to the run and the result was a season-high 276 rushing yards. The line also kept true freshman QB TJ Finley comfortable in the pocket.
The line did all that without starting left tackle Dare Rosenthal, who has been suspended indefinitely. Cam Wire played well in Rosenthal’s absence against South Carolina, but he’s banged up.
Either Wire or Charles Turner or both will have to play well at left tackle if LSU is going to be balanced against Auburn.
Auburn always has a strong and talented defensive front and it contained LSU’s record-setting offense last season better than any other opponent did.
The LSU offensive line has to set the tone and maintain it throughout.
2. Terrace Marshall Jr. outscoring Seth Williams
Both teams have big-play receivers.
Marshall leads LSU with 27 catches, 9 of which have gone for touchdowns. He has had at least 2 touchdown receptions in each game and 14 in his last 7 games dating to last season.
Williams hasn’t had as many big plays, but he is a big-play receiver and his 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Bo Nix with 1:11 left last week rallied Auburn to victory at Ole Miss.
3. Another strong pass rush
Whatever defensive improvement LSU had last week in the wake of the disaster at Missouri was mostly due to the play of the line.
LSU had 5 sacks, including 3 by BJ Ojulari. It made things difficult for Gamecocks QB Collin Hill.
The defensive line needs to be disruptive in the backfield, pressure Nix and generally do whatever it can to help a pass coverage unit that is still giving up too many big plays.
It also needs to win the line of scrimmage because the run defense has allowed its fair share of big plays also. That will be a challenge this week, especially. Auburn freshman Tank Bigsby has topped 100 yards in 3 consecutive games and OC Chad Morris is beginning to lean on the running game more each week.
The defensive line needs to set the tone and maintain it – just like the offensive line.
4. Fewer big plays allowed
Yeah, another strong effort by the line would help with this, but that’s not enough.
Even with the 5 sacks last week, the defense gave up too many big plays.
The back 7 have to do their part.
Mental mistakes, blown assignments and poor tackling have plagued this defense and provided big plays for opposing offenses throughout this season.
There will be times that Nix will have time to throw and each defender must at least identify the correct Auburn player he is responsible for. Williams is a big, physical matchup problem who frequently beats double-coverage. Anthony Schwartz is one of the fastest players in college football.
It sounds elementary, but it has seemed more challenging than that way too many times this season.
5. An ability to handle the unexpected
Something weird is going to happen.
It’s LSU and Auburn. Something weird almost always happens – a crowd reaction that causes an earthquake reading, a fire in a nearby building, lots of pick-6s, strangely applied rules, lots and lots of missed field goals, big-time comebacks, really strange clock stuff, on-field trolling, etc.
If that’s not enough to convince you, it’ll be Halloween.
On top of that a blue moon likely will peak out before the 2:30 p.m. (local) game ends.
Oh, and if all of that isn’t enough, it is 2020, you know.
Something weird is definitely going to happen.
LSU better be ready to handle it.