5 things we need to see from LSU against Vanderbilt
LSU is No. 4 in the country and rolling.
The Tigers beat Georgia Southern by 52 points to start the season and overcame a shaky first half to beat Northwestern State by 51 points.
In between, they went into Austin and beat then-No. 9 Texas 45-38 in one of the signature victories of the young season.
But still there have been blemishes along the way and LSU coach Ed Orgeron would like to see his team shore up a few things against the 0-2 Commodores regardless of what the final score winds up being Saturday in Nashville.
It’s LSU’s SEC opener and even though Vanderbilt represents one of the weaker challenges the Tigers will face in conference play, the first SEC game and the final game before Autumn arrives means it’s time to find another gear.
Here are 5 things we need to see from LSU against Vanderbilt:
1. A pass rush
Yes, the Tigers are beat up on the defensive line. Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan are likely to miss their second consecutive game after being banged up against the Longhorns. K’Lavon Chaisson is questionable after missing last week’s game.
But the pass rush wasn’t all that great when they were healthy. And Orgeron is getting impatient.
He said early this week that he and coordinator Dave Aranda are ready to start blitzing more in order to generate a better pass rush. Eventually the Tigers will need to get more of a rush from the front, but for now they’ll take it any way they can get.
The Commodores have allowed 5 sacks in two games. The Tigers have made 8 sacks in 3 games.
2. The freshman running backs
LSU has been touting John Emery II and Tyrion Davis-Price as being capable of having an impact right away. That hasn’t happened though both found the end zone last week after the Demons had been beaten down. Davis-Price scored twice and Emery once.
Orgeron has indicated that he has a greater comfort level, especially in terms of ball security and blocking, with veterans Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Lanard Fournette.
This game provides an opportunity to take a longer look at the freshmen and see what they can offer this season. If they make mistakes, the Tigers should be able to overcome them against Vanderbilt, but that was also the case against Georgia Southern and Northwestern State and Davis-Price had a combined 12 carries and Emery 9 in those 2 games.
LSU is even in turnovers, which isn’t what you would expect with 2 lopsided victories in the 3-0 start.
A better pass rush would certainly help in that regard and the defensive backs are the ones topping Orgeron’s list of those who need to start taking the ball away. The Tigers have 0 interceptions in 100 passes by opponents.
Orgeron said in the preseason that this was the best secondary he has ever been around. It hasn’t looked like that so far.
4. Special teams that are special
We’ve seen good stuff from the special teams so far, though freshman Cade York missed an extra point last week – the only miscue in another outstanding start for him.
Derek Stingley Jr. has brought much-needed life to the punt return game (an average of 14.6 yards on 8 returns) and freshman Trey Palmer broke one 54 yards for a touchdown last week.
The Tigers are looking for top-notch special teams play across the board. They’re close and hope to take another step forward this week.
5. Dominant offensive line play
The LSU offensive line has been fine, but not great.
If the Tigers are going to keep around the top four spots it’s going to have to evolve on the offensive line before it starts playing heavyweights later on.
LSU should be able to handle Vanderbilt’s defensive front and it’s time to see a strong effort across the line for 60 minutes as well as quality play from the second unit.
Maybe guard Ed Ingram will be reinstated soon; Orgeron has all but said he will be, but that won’t affect Saturday’s game.