LSU's secondary receivers need to come to play vs. Ole Miss
It didn’t take Hugh Freeze long to build a championship-caliber defense at Ole Miss. In 2011, the year before Freeze took over, the rebels ranked 96th in the nation in scoring defense and 90th in total defense (not to mention an 0-8 SEC mark). Less than three years later, they rank first and eighth in those categories, respectively.
The entire unit, known as the Landshark defense, has been stellar, front to back. Allowing just 10.6 points per game, they shut down all aspects of their opponents’ offense. If you have to pick one player that’s stood out above all else, hard to do with the incredible talent all over the depth chart, you’d have to go with cornerback Senquez Golson.
The Rebels lead the nation in interceptions, and this guy has had a big hand in that. The 5-foot-9 senior has already doubled his career interception total this season, registering 7 interceptions in the Rebels 7-0 start. For some reason, quarterbacks keep targeting Golson, and he keeps making them pay.
Against LSU, Golson will likely spend much of his time locked up with Tigers receiver Travin Dural. While on paper it seems like a mismatch, with Dural’s 6-foot-3 frame and great leaping ability, Golson has shown he’s not afraid of any matchup. He corralled Alabama’s superstar Amari Cooper for four quarters, holding him below his season averages. He even out-leapt 6-foot-6 tight end O.J. Howard for a game-sealing interception in the same game.
With LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings’ questionable arm accuracy, it would not prudent of him to test Golson too much. Dural will find ways to shake loose from the defense on occasion, as he has a knack for doing, but with the attention he’ll draw, LSU will need someone else to step up in the passing game. Running the ball against Ole Miss often proves to be a futile exercise, and even though it’s LSU’s offensive strength they’ll have to diversify a little bit.
Malachi Dupre has been a bit of a forgotten man since Jennings reclaimed the quarterback job, but the freshman receiver could be in line for a few more looks. While Ole Miss’ other starting corner, Mike Hilton, has the experience over the freshman receiver, Dupre will have a six-inch size advantage. Trey Quinn, another freshman, will have to find ways to flash open underneath for Jennings as well. Tony Conner, Ole Miss’ “husky” back, a hybrid role, will be the man picking him up.
LSU has two very good pass catchers out of the backfield as well in Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee. Fournette has impressive hands and route-running ability for a man his size, not to mention his breakaway speed, while Magee showed last week he can go over the middle and sprint away from the defense. Ole Miss runs a non-traditional 4-2-5 defense, which gives them the speed to swarm to the ball, so Jennings will have to make quick decisions going through his progressions getting passes out, something Les Miles admitted he’s struggled with at times.
Moving the ball against Ole Miss can be a monumental task. If Jennings gets some help from guys not named Travin Dural, it becomes a bit easier.
Watch: Ole Miss vs LSU preview and prediction