Texas A&M football: 5 biggest concerns I have about No. 1 LSU
With 1 game remaining, Texas A&M has an opportunity for an 8-win regular season for the 4th time in the past 5 years. Either way, the Aggies will have won at least 7 regular-season games for the 7th consecutive season.
But to get to that 8th win this year, Texas A&M will have to pull of the upset of the year in the SEC. The Aggies travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU, at night, in Tiger Stadium.
LSU marks the 3rd No. 1 team Texas A&M will have faced this season. The Aggies dropped previous meetings to Clemson (24-10) and Alabama (47-28). It’ll also be the 5th top 10 team that Texas A&M has faced this year. The Aggies are 0-4 in those games.
Yes, the challenge Saturday is monumental. Here are the 5 things that concern me most about LSU.
1. Joe Burrow’s decision-making
The guy just gets it done. He knows when to hold ’em. He knows when to fold ’em. He does an excellent job of reading the defense and goes through his progressions with the confidence and maturity of a seasoned veteran. And when the opportunity presents itself, Burrow will beat you with his legs. He averages more than 7 yards per carry and rarely puts his team in bad situations. Burrow (41 TDs, 4,014 yards) is on pace to break the SEC’s single-season records for TDs (44) and yards (4,275) in a season. He could do it midway through the 3rd quarter.
2. Quick-strike offense
The Tigers don’t need a lot of time to put points on the boards. They are 10th in the SEC in time of possession, averaging just 29 minutes per game. Last Saturday, Arkansas held the ball for nearly 41 minutes against the Tigers. But LSU still scored 56 points in 19-plus minutes. That negates a huge advantage the Aggies have enjoyed all season long. They lead the SEC in time of possession, controlling the football on average for 33 minutes, 43 seconds per game. That won’t be a factor on Saturday because the Tigers can strike on any play from any spot on the field.
LSU leads the SEC in plays covering 30+ yards (38) and 50+ yards (11).
3. That receiving corps
LSU’s group of smart, speedy, rangy receivers find a way to get open. They can beat you on their routes, make back-shoulder catches with the best of them and rarely drop a catchable pass. The Tigers have three burners in Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall, Jr. Chase and Jefferson are 2 of the top 3 receivers in the SEC. Chase leads the nation, averaging 126 receiving yards per game. An improved Aggies pass defense will definitely have its hands full Saturday.
4. Aggies’ lack of QB pressure
The only way, it seems, to get Burrow off his game is to pressure him. Like any QB, Burrow is much more comfortable in the pocket if he isn’t under duress. And while the Tigers have done a good job in keeping Burrow upright and his uniform clean, the Aggies haven’t done much in the way of getting to the opposing QBs. Texas A&M ranks 10th in the SEC with just 21 sacks. That calculates to under 2 per game. If the Aggies don’t improve on that number Saturday, it could be a long day for their secondary.
5. Explosiveness of RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Everybody talks about Burrow and the LSU passing game. But Edwards-Helaire in the past few games has risen to the top of his game, prompting some to wonder if he should accompany his QB to New York City as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate. All he’s done the past 2 games is rush for 360 yards and 4 TDs. He ran 89 yards for a touchdown Saturday against Arkansas, a game in which he averaged 31 yards per carry. Just what LSU needs, another home-run threat.